Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of Easter Sunday
Sam Cooke, "Jesus Gave Me Water" from Portrait of a Legend, 1951-1964 (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I should love to make as big a deal of Easter as of Christmas, via the R.B.D.S.O.T.D., but the songs just aren't there, at least not in quantity & specificity. Still, there are some, & boy howdy, are they something.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Project OSPREY
N.C.A.A. Tournament, Elite Eight
East Regional Final
(4) Syracuse 55-39 Marquette (3)

There was no joy in watching the pathetic slog through forty minutes by the epithetless Orange(men) or Syracuse & the epithetless Golden Eagles of Marquette. Instead of flipping back & forth from one delightful, unexpected tournament treat to another, there was no other game but the sad, dreary affair 'twixt offensively-challenged Big East contenders. Watching this afternoon's game felt like work, not recreation; work for which I was poorly compensated.

West Regional Final
(9) Wichita State 70-66 Ohio State (2)

Once again, the hated Buckeyes fell into a deep hole, & for once they were not able to haul themselves out again, not before time expired. I knew this day would come, & cursed them for fools for not taking the epithetless Shockers seriously as opponents! Ohio State could have won tonight's game—should have won tonight's game—but they were clearly unprepared for Wichita State. Why did those Scarlet & Gray jerks wait 'til halfway through the second half to start driving to the basket? Once they did, they were drawing fouls left & right & making up significant ground on Wichita State at the free throw line. Had the done that from the first, had they put forth an effort instead of blithely expecting last-second heroics to be their salvation yet again, a Big Ten club would be in the Final Four. (My head wanted the hated Buckeyes to prevail, but my heart soared whenever the epithetless Shockers made Craft & co. look hapless.) For pity's sake, Ohio State! Why didn't you take Wichita State seriously?
The Victors | Project OSPREY
Friday, 29 March 2013
N.C.A.A. Tournament, Sweet Sixteen
(4) Michigan 87-85 Kansas (1) (O.T.)
29-7, Big Ten 13-7

Al Michaels's far-famed call at the 1980 Winter Olympic Games comes to mind: "Do you believe in miracles? Yes!" There should be no doubt that the epithetless Jayhawks could have won last night's game, should have won last night's game. They had innumerable chances to put the valiant Wolverines away, but could never seal the deal. At the half, with Michigan trailing Kansas by six, there were two ways to look at things. The pessimist rued that the Maize & Blue had just surrendered more points than in any other first half all season long. The optimist saw the look of desperate incomprehension on epithetless Jayhawks' coach Bill Self as he was interviewed heading into the locker room; he simply could not understand how it was that his club could have played such a dominant first half & yet secured only a six-point lead. He could not understand how Michigan hadn't gone away. Self knows the game of basketball, & knows that club that cannot put other clubs away often find themselves in deadly peril.

Valiant Wolverine Mitch McGary (freshman, forward [faux center]) had shown vast improvement over the course of the season, but his play in the tournament has been a revelation; against Kansas he again lead all scorers, with twenty-five points & fourteen rebounds. Trey Burke (sophomore, guard) saved the day, as he so often has, with his indefatigable hustle, his emotional leadership, & his clutch shooting. Burke scored twenty-three points, all in the second half & overtime. As much as the epithetless Jayhawks failed to finish off the valiant Wolverines, the valiant Wolverines refused to be finished off. Michigan trailed by as many as fourteen points in the second half, & was down ten with three minutes left in regulation. In a move sure to please the Adidas marketing department, the valiant Wolverines did "rise to the occasion," remaining poised in the waning minutes ever as veteran Kansas folded under the pressure.

That, treasured readers, that was the thrill of victory, & occasional & elusive though it often is when at last it pays a call it more than justifies the more frequent agony of defeat.

Next: (3) Florida, the highest-remaining seed in the South regional, on Easter Sunday.

Go Blue!

Elsewhere in the Sweet Sixteen
(3) Florida 62-50 Florida Gulf Coast (15)

The epithetless Gators had a tougher time with the dirty, rotten, elbow-throwing "Cinderella" of this year's Madness, the epithetless Eagles of Florida Gulf Coast University, than I'd anticipated, but controlled the games after "Dunk City's" initial spree in the first ten minutes. Florida Gulf Coast are scum, & Sherwood Brown should have been ejected (Flagrant 2) for the intentional elbow to the face of Florida's Will Yeguete; instead, he was given the lesser Flagrant 1 foul. Brown threw an equally vicious, equally intentional elbow in F.G.C.'s Round of 32 win over San Diego State, & was not called for the foul. That surely encouraged him to be even more violent against Florida, & thank goodness the zebras weren't as blind as those in the S.D.S.U. game. Maybe Brown has a future as an M.M.A. fighter, but his band of thuggery has no place in college basketball & it earned his school my eternal enmity. The devil take Florida Gulf Coast University!

(2) Duke 71-61 Michigan State (3)

The epithetless Blue Devils are a hard club to figure out. They didn't look particularly impressive in their Round of 32 victory over Creighton & they didn't look particularly impressive in last night's victory over the dastardly Spartans, yet simultaneously it also appeared that Michigan State was lucky to lose by only ten, instead of fifteen or twenty. This should never be the case, because Duke is Duke, Coach K. is Coach K., & the epithetless Blue Devils were in the conversation for a (1) seed before the selection committee bought all of Gonzaga's balderdash & rewarded the epithetless Bulldogs with an undeserved (1) seed, but it almost seems like Duke is a bit of a sleeper. They don't seem particularly impressive or capable, but before you even know what's happened they've shot 22 of 24 free throws & you're trailing by an unassailable margin. The dastardly Spartans were clearly incapable of solving the puzzle of Duke & seemed especially flummoxed when their usual bullying tactics failed to cow Coach K.'s club. Big Ten loyalty fostered a genuine wish for Michigan State to prevail, but longstanding & deeply-ingrained antipathy meant that I smiled, at least inwardly, at their demise.

Indiana & Michigan State are gone, Michigan & Ohio State carry the banner for the Big Ten Conference. The hated Buckeyes have a favorable draw against the epithetless Shockers of Wichita State, but they would underestimate their foe at their grave peril. The valiant Wolverines will be severely tested against the epithetless Gators, but this is not the time for caution, not after last night's thriller. Brimming with confidence in the valiant Wolverines, right now "I feel like I could take on the whole Empire myself." (Of course, we should note that Dak perished not long after uttering those boastful words.) No matter, now is the time for braggadocio!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of Holy Saturday
The Puppini Sisters, "In the Mood" from Betcha Bottom Dollar (T.L.A.M.)

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of Good Friday
Joslin Grove Choral Society, "Were You There?" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble…"

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Tito Puente, "Señor Burns" from Songs in the Key of Springfield (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: We instruct children, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me." This is a lie, of course. Were we to be honest with children—which is not necessarily a course I would advise—we'd tell them, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but only words can truly hurt me."

"Wounds won't last long, but an insulting song
Burns will always carry with him,
So I settle my score on the salsa floor
With this vengeful Latin rhythm…"

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Explorers' Club
№ CCCXXXIII - The Thirty Years' War, Part IV: France ascendent—The Battle of Wittstock (1636), disastrous French invasions of Habsburg lands & disastrous Habsburg invasions of French lands, the Second Battle of Breitenfeld (1642), the Battle of Rocroi (1643), shifting alliances among the Nordic powers & the Action of 13 October 1644, the Battle of Jankau & the Second Battle of Nördlingen (both 1645), the Battle of Lens (1648), & the capture & sack of Prague Castle (1648).

The Victors: Project OSPREY
Thursday, 21 March 2013
N.C.A.A. Tournament, Round of 64
(4) Michigan 71-56 South Dakota State (13)
27-7, Big Ten 13-7

It was with no small amount of trepidation that I tuned into the beginning of the N.C.A.A. Tournament proper to see the valiant Wolverines take on the unknown & epithetless Jackrabbits of South Dakota State. The pro-Maize & Blue website emphasized the epithetless Jackrabbits' senior point guard, Nate Wolters, as the key to their offense; this promised an interesting match up 'twixt their greatest strength & our greatest strength, sophomore point guard Trey Burke. Burke was quiet offensively, scoring well below his season average, but so too was Wolters held belong his normally gaudy numbers. The valiant Wolverines had a greater variety of offensive options with which to compensate, & freshman forward Glenn Robinson III—often invisible in our defeats—stepped up in a big way, leading all scorers with twenty-one points on the way to a fifteen-point Michigan victory.

The valiant Wolverines advanced to face the "Havoc" defense of the epithetless Rams of Virginia Commonwealth University (V.C.U.) in the Round of 32—what used to be known as the second round, before the "First Four" malarkey.

Saturday, 23 March 2013
N.C.A.A. Tournament, Round of 32
(4) Michigan 78-53 Virginia Commonwealth (5)
28-7, Big Ten 13-7

I readily admit that I dreaded this match up as I filled out my surely doomed bracket. My loyalty to the valiant Wolverines has never wavered, nor could it, but my confidence in them was shattered by the formulaic nature of all their away defeats, the last-minute collapse against Indiana to give us our only home loss, & the second-half collapse against Wisconsin the the league tourney. I feared that our freshman- & sophomore-laden club would wilt in the face of V.C.U.'s full-court pressure "Havoc" defense. Quite the opposite occurred, & in the aftermath of the twenty-five-point victory the consensus seems to be that the valiant Wolverines were the perfect club to thwart "Havoc," with the team speed & skilled point guards that are "Havoc's" Kryptonite. I was surprised that the epithetless Rams' vaunt full-court defense turned out really to be half-court defense, the twist being that they defend in your end & not in their own. Once the valiant Wolverines broke through the baseline pressure, baskets came easily & often; V.C.U. was defensively absent from their own end of the hardwood. Freshman forward-cum-center Mitch McGary had a career day, wracking up an impressive double-double with fourteen rebounds & twenty-one points to lead all scorers. Burke, Robinson, junior guard Tim Hardaway Jr., & freshman guard Spike Albrecht, spelling Burke at the crucial "one" position, all had impressive days. Playing like they did on Saturday, the valiant Wolverines can beat any other club in the country. This is the first time any squad of valiant Wolverines have advanced to the "Sweet Sixteen" since 1994, the '93-'94 squad featuring the remaining four of the fondly remembered "Fab Five."

Next: (1) Kansas on Friday, 29 March, from Dallas, Texas. In their first two games the valiant Wolverines profited greatly from essentially home court advantage, playing in the Palace of Auburn Hills—home of the Detroit Pistons of the N.B.A.—less than fifty miles from Ann Arbor. Here's hoping we do not revert to bad habits on a neutral court, which is admittedly much closer to Kansas's campus than ours. Let us not forget that the valiant Wolverines won their first two games by a combined forty points, nor mean feat in the win-or-go-home environment of the Big Dance. The valiant Wolverines played superlative 'ball last weekend & can do so again. Onward to the "Elite Eight"!

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Betty Wand, Leslie Caron, Louis Jordan, & Hermione Gingold, "The Night They Invented Champagne" (from Gigi) via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I've never seen all of Gigi, but I've seen bits & pieces, & heard many of the songs, & found it all to be delightful. The film's to air on T.C.M. in May, & I'm all set up for them to e-mail a reminder to me. 1958 in film, man, it's hard to top that.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Lighting Seeds, "You Showed Me" from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery—Original Soundtrack (T.L.A.M.)

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Maurice Chevalier & Jeannette MacDonald, et al., "Isn't It Romantic?" via the YouTube (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Isn't It Romantic?", by Rodgers & Hart, as introduced in the 1932 motion picture Love Me Tonight, with different lyrics than those by which it become a standard in the Great American Songbook. Maurice-link!

Sonntag, 24 März
Dance Hall Crashers, "Whiskey & Gin" from Honey, I'm Homely! (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I finished off the last of the gin.

Samstag, 23 März
Cake, "Long Line of Cars" from Comfort Eagle (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: On Friday, I posted to the FaceSpace that [insert my name] "…is running on a big three hours of sleep. This is going to be a long, profoundly strange day." The magnificent strangeness continued well into Saturday. (The selection of "Long Line of Cars" as Saturday's R.B.D.S.O.T.D. will make sense in context, soon to be provided under the joint aegis of "Project MERCATOR" & "Urbi et Orbi.")

Freitag, 22 März
They Might Be Giants, "Brain Problem Situation" from Cast Your Pod to the Wind (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: It's always peculiar to be engaged in conversations with persons who become increasingly inebriated even as I maintain my even keel, intoxicated only by the oft-forgotten realization that even I really do enjoy being social. (The felicitous evening soon to be chronicled under the aegis of "Project MERCATOR.")

"In the drunk tank,
We're in the drunk tank,
We're in the drunk tank all by ourselves."

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Project OSPREY
My traditional exhortation on the opening day of March Madness—yes, today was the first day, speak not to me of the "First Four;" that's a play-in, not the first round of the tournament: "Time to watch basketball 'til your eyes bleed."

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Heavy, "How You Like Me Now?" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Operation AXIOM
Four hundred eleven years ago to the day, 20 March 1602, the United East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, V.O.C.)—commonly known in English as the Dutch East India Company to distinguish it from the later British East India Company (which called itself simply the East India Company)—was chartered with a twenty-one year monopoly to establish colonies & trade links betwixt the Netherlands (then in the midst of a prolonged rebellion against the Habsburg-ruled Spanish Empire) & the East Indies (today, the Republic of Indonesia). At one time, the V.O.C. was the most valuable corporation ever to exist, with an adjusted 2012 value of $7,400,000,000,000. The V.O.C. acted as a quasi state unto itself, & though it was not the first company to so function, it was the first protomodern business to wield such influence. From the V.O.C. to New Netherland to Cape Town, I find the history of Dutch colonization & colonialism endlessly fascinating. Four hundred eleven years ago to-day.

The free online dating website I use classifies the correlation of the answers to a series of questions in one of two ways, either "The Two of Us" or "Y'all Got Issues." (Irksome, I agree.) I strive not to be too much like the character Jerry from Seinfeld, discarding girls based on the slighted pretext or quirk, but some standards must be maintained. Recently, the "staff robot" (which I assume is their whimsical name for their proprietary matching software) recommended to me a girl who answered "Yes"—as did I—to the question, "Do spelling mistakes bother you?," or something very much like that. All well & good. Just a few questions later, though, in elaborating upon her answer to another question, she wrote "there" in place of "their." That kind of mistake is always discouraging, but in light of her professed distaste of spelling errors it became galling. Presented with the choice of writing her a message or clicking a button, "I'm not interested," I chose the button.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Burt Bacharach & The Posies, "What the World Needs Now Is Love" from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery—Original Soundtrack (T.L.A.M.)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Operation AXIOM
Ten years ago to the day, 19 March 2003, the Iraq War began with the aerial bombing of command & control centers in Baghdad, followed the next day, 20 March, by the invasion of Iraq by the armies of the "coalition of the willing"—the United States of America, the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland, the Commonwealth of Australia, & the Republic of Poland. The brutal, decades-long dictatorship of Saddam Hussein & his Ba'ath Party was overthrown within three weeks, though the dictator fled & would not be captured 'til December of '03. To our great shame & even greater lament, the necessary occupation proved to have been ill-planned, & post-invasion reconstruction efforts were improvised & mismanaged, often beset by both incompetence & corruption. Worst of all, long-simmering ethnic tensions were mishandled & the country soon descended into virtual chaos in an orgy of sectarian violence, Sunnis (including both secular Ba'athists & jihadists affiliated with al-Qaeda) versus Shiites (supported by Iran) & both sides versus the occupational authorities. No active weapons of mass destruction programs were found within Iraq, but the oppressive, internationally aggressive Hussein regime was consigned to the ash heap of history; the first representative democracy in an Arab state was founded; & the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi abandoned his nuclear weapons program for fear of being the next target of American-led preemptive war. Approximately four thousand five hundred American soldier, sailors, airmen, & Marines perished in the eight years of the war, along with hundreds of coalition soldiers & an estimated over one hundred thousand Iraqis, both uniformed & irregular combatants & civilians. Some remained steadfast in the belief that the war was justified & that the cost, however terrible to bear, was necessary; others supported the war when they thought it would be easy & clean, but turned against the adventure when war proved that it remains as hellish as William Tecumseh Sherman knew it to be; still others remained steadfast in their belief that the war was unjustified from the first & that whatever good might have merged had been purchased at too dear a price in blood & treasure. Ten years ago to-day.

This afternoon, I retrieved my mother from the aerodrome (Detroit Metro) in the Lumi, the Distaff Son of the Mousemobile. As I motored south on US-23 I espied a trio of '14 Corvette Stingrays across the median in the northbound lanes. Sweet fancy Moses, they were gorgeous! I saw the new seventh-generation Corvette (or "C7") at the North American International Auto Show in January—accompanied by Ska Army—but this was the first time I'd seen an ambulatory Stingray. Not long after, I espied a similarly northbound Porsche Panamera, the first I'd ever seen in the wild.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
First Aid Kit, "King of the World" from The Lion's Roar (T.L.A.M.)


"Well, I'm nobody's baby,
I'm everybody's girl,
I'm the queen of nothin',
I'm the king of the world."

Cue the sweet trumpet part.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Explorers' Club
№ CCCXXXII - The Thirty Years' War, Part III: Protestantism strikes back—The Low Saxon War & the Peace of Lübeck (1629), the Edict of Restitution (1629), the Treaty of Stettin (1630) & the Treaty of Bärwalde (1631), the Sack of Magdeburg (1631), the failure of the Spanish Square at the Battle of Breitenfeld (1631), its redemption at the Battle of Nördlingen (1634), & the Peace of Prague (1635).

The Victors: Project OSPREY
Friday, 15 March 2013
Big Ten Tournament, Round 2
(№ 22) Wisconsin 68-59 Michigan (№ 6)
26-7, Big Ten 13-7

As the Bard wrote, "beware the Ides of March." I did not see the game as I was volunteering at the weekly Knights of Columbus Friday fish fry; it was there I learned the score & though I was not surprised, I was disappointed. I learned more of the circumstances of our defeat upon my return home, & I hung my head at the news of our second-half collapse. There are entire games in which the pesky Badgers fail to score fifty-one points, so to have surrendered so many to them in the second half portents doom & gloom for our chances in the N.C.A.A. Tournament.

I've not yet filled out my bracket. School spirit will almost certainly compel me to pick the valiant Wolverines to advance to the Sweet Sixteen, but in my heart of hearts I simply do not believe that we have the fight within us to rise to the challenge of presumed opponent Virginia Commonwealth, they of the recent tournament Cinderella stories. (Should V.C.U. fall in the round of sixty-four, the situation might be quite different.) Of course, there is no guarantee that the valiant Wolverines will win their round of sixty-four game, against the epithetless Jackrabbits of South Dakota State University. We are a highly skilled club, in that we have the ability to lose to any opponent, anytime, anywhere. Will this talent be on display on Thursday (& Saturday) or will the valiant Wolverines return to the brilliant form they evinced before the "Murderers' Row" stretch of the season, from which we have never quite recovered our swagger? I should love nothing better than to be exposed as a Doubting Thomas, & to see the valiant Wolverines regain their swagger & make some noise at the Big Dance.

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Dr. John, "Big Chief" from the Rhino Hi-Five: Dr. John E.P. (T.L.A.M.)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Operation AXIOM
Welcome to St. Paddy's Day, America's annual pageant of ethnic prejudice. The Nativists & Know Nothings of the 1840s & 1850s would be proud to observe a holiday that reduces Irish culture to & caricatures it as nothing more than early-morning drunkenness, a fondness for shamrocks, & leprechauns, leprechauns, leprechauns. Imagine if firms advertised by painting actors up in blackface & having them enact grotesque imitations of exaggerated & distorted rural Southern black culture; such depictions of black Americans have been recognized as offensive & banished from the public square since the civil rights movements of the 1960s, yet it is still entirely acceptable for firms to hawk their wares using actors made up as leprechauns, jigging preposterously & lilting away about the incredible savings on offer. That such behavior is still acceptable in this day & age is staggering. Can anyone defend St. Paddy's Day as anything other than a pageant of ethnic prejudice?

Let's dispense with the fiction that St. Paddy's Day has anything to do with the feast of Saint Patrick, shall we? Yes, I freely admit that St. Paddy's Day gets my Irish up, as it were.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of St. Paddy's Day
Denis Leary, "Traditional Irish Folk Song" from No Cure for Cancer (M.P.W.)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Desmond Dekker & The Aces, "Israelites" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I'm mildly reluctant to select a ska song as the R.B.D.S.O.T.D., the famine before the feast that will be The Secret Bases's third "SKApril," but "Israelites" passes muster because it's really more of a reggae song than a ska song. The distinction 'twixt ska & reggae is, at times, murky, I confess.

"So that every mouth can be fed."

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Mu330, "Wide Awake" from Chumps on Parade (T.L.A.M.)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Victors: Project OSPREY
Big Ten Tournament, Round 1
(№ 6) Michigan 83-66 Penn State
26-6, Big Ten 13-6

The rubber match against the ferocious Nittany Lions was certainly more exciting than it needed to be, especially in the first half. I was horrified to see the valiant Wolverines fall behind by double digits early in the first half, that very opening sluggishness having typified our defeats, but was pleased with how they fought back to lead at the half, & with how they pulled away to close out the game. The loss at Penn State was still a bad loss, but at least now the valiant Wolverines having a winning record against the ferocious Nittany Lions, 2-1.

Next: Round 2 of the Big Ten Tournament, against Wisconsin tomorrow afternoon. We lost to the pesky Badgers in Madison, where they enjoy a tremendous home court advantage—winning something like 97% of their home games over the last five years—but the valiant Wolverines should have won that game, had it not been for a late-game collapse. The valiant Wolverines can & probably should win tomorrow.

Go Blue!

This Week in Motorsport
Rally Monkey
World Rally Championship
Round 3
Rally Mexico
Friday-Sunday, 7-10 March 2013

Sébastien Ogier of Volkswagen has staked his claim as the early favorite to be the first World Rally Champion besides Sébastien Loeb since '03, winning Rally Mexico in convincing fashion, three & a half minutes head of the second place finisher, Mikko Hirvonen of Citroën. Mexico was Ogier's second consecutive victory & in the young season's three rallies he has yet to finish worse than second. The fleet Frenchman's closest challenger was Mads Østberg of M-Sport (Ford), 'til the young Norwegian's Ford was sidelined by mechanical gremlins. Three & a half minutes is outrageous; it is rare for the victor to be more than a minute ahead of the runner-up at the end o' a rally. There are ten rallies left in '13, months of competition ahead, & both oceans to cross & continents to traverse before this year's campaign is over, but try as I might to keep a sense of perspective it is difficult to imagine how any of the other drivers will match, let along surpass Ogier.

The crowds at Rally Mexico, the W.R.C.'s lone stop in North America, were massive & enthusiastic. This was delightful to behold, a lovely counterpoint to the hyperbolic claims by some that our neighbor to the south is a borderline failed state. ¡Viva México!

Next: Portugal in one month's time. I miss the W.R.C. being on television (but still hold out hope that a deal might come together later in the year), but by following the series online—thanks to copious video highlight packages—I've caught rallies that I'd previously always missed, such as this year's opening trio of Monte Carlo, Sweden, & Mexico. Portugal, too, will be all new to me. The W.R.C. is such glorious madness!

By Endurance We Conquer
2013 is the last season for the American Le Mans Series (A.L.M.S.) & the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series as separate competitions. Next year, they will merge into a single, combined series, the name of which was revealed today: United SportsCar Racing. I'm certain that I could come up with an even worse title for what is supposed to be an exciting motor racing competition, but I'm equally certain that I'd have to think long & hard to come up with that even worse title. Nothing else seems more appropriate than an exasperated, wow. Wow. I suppose it would have been too obvious to just call it the Lame Dull Boredom Series?

This weekend sees the last running of the 12 Hours of Sebring as the opening event of the A.L.M.S. season. From 2014, it will be a part of the United SportsCar Racing calendar. (Should that be initialized as U.S.R. or U.S.C.R.? I hate incorrectly capitalized faux words such as "SportsCar" like a drowning man hates water. "SportsCar" isn't a word, sports car is a phrase. I suppose I should have expected nothing else from the N.A.S.C.A.R. brain trust.)

Formula Fun!
This weekend will also see the first Formula One grand prix of the year, the Australian Grand Prix. Yippee, F1 is back! From what I've seen so far, I am cautiously optimistic about N.B.C. Sports as the new U.S. broadcaster, in no small part because N.B.C. hired fully three fourths of Speed's old F1 on-air personnel.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Danny Elfman, "Main Titles/End Titles" (from Beetlejuice) via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Urbi et Orbi
"Habemus papam!" "We have a pope!" Congratulations to Pope Francis, His Holiness the Bishop of Rome, along with my sincerest thanks for his willingness to serve our Lord by bearing the most weighty burden of the papacy. Spare a pray, dear reader, for the Vicar of Christ on Earth as he becomes shepherd of the Catholic Church, the world's greatest body of the faithful, & sovereign of the State of Vatican City.

The Holy Fathers of my lifetime:

His Holiness Pope Blessed John Paul II
(Karol Józef Wojtyła)
25 July 1979-2 April 2005

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
(Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger)
19 April 2005-28 February 2013

His Holiness Pope Francis
(Jorge Mario Bergoglio)
13 March 2013-incumbant

Lies, Damned Lies, & the News
The B.B.C.'s coverage since Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI announced his impending abdication would have made Titus Oates proud. (Oates & his "Popish Plot" will surely be the subject of an "Explorers' Club" episode at some point.) The B.B.C. always treated His Holiness Benedict poorly, though whether this was due principally to residual Anglican hostility to Catholicism, principally to residual British hostility to Germans, or both hatreds in equal measure remains unknown. It will be interesting to note how fairly or how shabbily that treat His Holiness Francis. Will they be kinder because he is non-European? Time shall tell.
The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Meaghan Smith, "It Snowed" via iTunes, (free) Holiday Sampler (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I thrilled when I rolled up my shade this morning & gazed out the window upon a world unexpectedly blanketed in white beauty. Gone was the pre-spring, half-dead ugliness of snowless winter, returned was the gleaming

"It snowed, it snowed, it snowed last night,
Everything is sparkling with diamond light…"

Operation AXIOM
One hundred twenty-nine years ago to the day, 13 March 1884, the Siege of Khartoum began. An Egyptian force under the British general "Chinese Gordon" (Wayback Machine, Parts I & II) was besieged at Khartoum, the capital of the Sudan, then an Anglo-Egyptian protectorate, by the jihadist forces of Muhammad Ahmad, the self-proclaimed "Mahdi." The Mahdist forces were the nineteenth century analog of such latter-day nightmares as the Taliban or al-Shabaab. The siege was to last for over three hundred days, during which the Liberal Gladstone government first refused & then delayed in sending a relief expedition. Two days before the relieving, khaki-clad Redcoats arrived, the Mahdi's army stormed the city & overwhelmed Gordon's half-starved defenders, massacring every man Jack of them. Gordon became a martyr of the empire, though it would take another fourteen years to completely reconquer the Sudan & smash the forces of the Mahdi & his successor, the self-proclaimed Caliph (Khalifa), Adballahi ibn Muhammad. The Siege of Khartoum, one hundred twenty-nine years ago to-day.

The Mahdist revolt has been on my mind of late as I recently saw the 1939 motion picture of The Four Feathers, a far-superior film to the revisionist 2002 motion picture. I must eventually read A. E. W. Mason's original novel, The Four Feathers.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Explorers' Club
№ CCCXXXI - The Thirty Years' War, Part II: Catholicism triumphant—The Second Defenestration of Prague (1618), the Bohemian Revolt & the Battle of White Mountain (1620), the Imperial & Spanish conquests of the Palatinates (1620-1622), the resumption of the Eighty Years' War (1621), the end of the "Palatinate phase" at the Battle of Stadtlohn (1623), the Siege of Breda (1624-1625), & the final defeat of the Huguenots at the Siege of La Rochelle (1627-1628).

Operation AXIOM
Nine years ago to the day, 12 March 2004, the first episode of Wonderfalls aired on the Fox broadcast network. (They style it as FOX, to echo the improperly punctuated styling of "ABC," "NBC," & "CBS," but "FOX" is neither an acronym nor an initialism, so I refuse to play ball.) I contributed to the swift, regrettable cancellation of Wonderfalls in that I meant to watch the show, but missed it week after week, eventually catching only the four & finale episode to be broadcast, "Pink Flamingos," the high school reunion episode. On the strength of that solitary episode, I acquired the D.V.D. boxset of all thirteen episodes, including the nine that Fox never aired. I've seen Wonderfalls all the way through thrice or maybe four times, a task made easy by the show's sad brevity & a task made splendid by the show's too little-recognized brilliance. Wonderfalls, nine years ago to-day.

Caroline Dhavernas, who played series protagonist Jaye Tyler.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Séan McCann, "Sooner or Later" courtesy The Watergirl (T.L.A.M.)


"Jesus Christ came down to save Mankind,
He forgave the sinner, he cured the blind,
But we wouldn't let Him change our minds,
So we nailed Him to a tree and He died."

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Alison Krauss, "Down to the River to Pray" from O Brother, Where Art Thou?: Soundtrack from the Motion Picture (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Despite the title, "Down to the River to Pray," all through the song the lyrics are "Down in the river to pray." Now for something of altogether greater consequence:

"Good Lord, show me the way."

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Victors: Project OSPREY
(№ 2) Indiana 72-71 Michigan (№ 7)
25-6, Big Ten 12-6

We suffered our first home loss of the year not because both Trey Burke (sophomore, guard) & Jordan Morgan (red shirt sophomore, forward) missed that last-second shot, but because we failed to make our free throws in the clutch. (Curses!) In the final minute, we made one of four free throw attempts. Two of the misses we the front half of one-&-ones, meaning we had the potential to score as many as six points. A quick check at the top of the page indicates that we lost the game by a single point, having left five easy points on the court at the line. (Foiled again!) One could say that we put up a good fight against an Indiana club that brutalized us on their own home court, but, with apologies, Pollyanna, we here at The Secret Base are in no mood to play the glad game. We had a five-point lead with fifty-two seconds left to play. We choked. We snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. It will serve us right if Penn State knocks us out in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.

If Burke returns for his junior season, forgoing the N.B.A., the valiant Wolverines should be a formidable club next season, but this year they've shown an uncanny ability not to rise to the occasion. Whatever it is that separates good clubs from great clubs, we don't have it.

Next: Penn State on Thursday, the not élite round the Big Ten Tournament. The single-elimination phase of the season is upon us & with it is gone any margin for error. Win or go home. To redeem themselves & win the league tournament, the valiant Wolverines will have to win four games in four days, first against Penn State & then over Wisconsin, & after that cloudy the future is. I would love to be proved wrong in my analysis of our club as good but not great.

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Andy Partridge, "I Wonder Why the Wonderfalls" (the theme from Wonderfalls) via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Your humble narrator is a regular reader of the blog The Art of Manliness. I disagree with about one third of what is presented, an indifferent to another third, & quite enjoy the remaining third. The following is by Jack London, writing about writing, with minor & easily discernible editorial commentary from the Art of Manliness folks:
Don’t dash off a six-thousand-word story before breakfast. Don’t write too much. Concentrate your sweat on one story, rather than dissipate it over a dozen. Don’t loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club, and if you don’t get it you will none the less get something that looks remarkably like it. Set yourself a “stint,” [London wrote 1,000 words nearly every day of his adult life] and see that you do that “stint” each day; you will have more words to your credit at the end of the year.

Today I wrote my thousand words, & then some. We are in far too preliminary a stage of TRIANGLE to be doing any serious writing, but I composed & transmitted to K. Steeze an e-mail of not one thousand words, but close to double that, approximately one thousand eighty hundred fifty words. By such incremental steps, not all at once but a little bit day by day, I can thwart my indefatigable subconscious desire to thwart myself & become the writer I yearn to be, the writer I know I can be.

Grow or die.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
They Might Be Giants, "She's an Angel" (live) from Severe Tire Damage (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: What's the first thing a angel says, almost invariably, when it appears in Scripture? "Be not afraid." What can we induce—not deduce—from this? Angels are possessed of a terrible majesty, possessed of such awesome power that it threatens to strip our simple, sin-ridden minds of reason & reduce us to our primal instinct to flee in abject terror lest the messengers of the Lord provide authoritative reassurance but quick. None of which has much to do with "She's an Angel," but there's at least an tangential connection.

"I found out she's an angel,
I don't think she knows I know,
I'm worried that something might happen to me
If anyone ever finds out.

"Why—why did they send her over anyone else?
How should I react?
These things happen to other people,
They don't happen at all!

"When you're following an angel
Does it mean you have to throw your body off a building?
Somewhere they're meeting on a pinhead,
Calling you an angel, calling you the nicest thing…"

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Anatole Fistoulari & the London Symphony Orchestra, "Sabre Dance" (from Gayaneh) from London Symphony Orchestra Plays Classical Favourites (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Whenever I hear the "Sabre Dance," I yearn to be able to spin plates atop sticks. I don't wish to learn how to spin plates atop sticks, I wish I simply knew how to do so. Today's R.B.D.S.O.T.D. was inspired by one of my brother knights, who referenced the "Flight of the Bumblebee." I counter-nominated with the "Sabre Dance" & we alternated between the two, humming with abandon for several minutes.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Last night, I motored the Lumi, the Distaff Son of the Mousemobile into the wilds of Oakland County for a good old-fashioned Psych-watching party with the distaff members of 2010-1011's "gang," now the "old gang"—The Most Dangerous Game, The Impossible Ingenue, The Cowgirl, & the Drama Queen. 'Twas a lovely evening, a good time was had by all, & plans are already afoot to nurture & cultivate the friendships that we had all permitted to lie fallow these long months, creeping into years. Tempus fugit, so swiftly that if one isn't careful years will have flown by in the blink of an eye.

Also, Psych is back! (Yes, I know it returned last week, &, yes, I watched the season premiere, "Santabarbaratown 2.") Yippee!

The Victors: Project OSPREY
Wednesday, 6 March 2013
(№ 7) Michigan 80-75 Purdue
25-5, Big Ten 12-5

Hip hip, hooray! The losing streak is over! Last night, the valiant Wolverines ended a four-game away-game losing streak, earning their first victory outside of the Crisler Center in over a month. Beyond the elation of the win & the end of the baleful slide, there is a something very positive to take away from the win over the ill-starred Boilermakers: for the second game in a row, after Sunday's defeat of the dastardly Spartans, the valiant Wolverines fought back from a late-game deficit. The negative spin on this is provided by the dark bastard, & in this he is not entirely wrong, that there is nothing to celebrate here because it took everything the valiant Wolverines had to best the lowly ill-starred Boilermakers. Yet this ignores the history of this season, that just a week earlier the even lowlier ferocious Nittany Lions were able to withstand everything the valiant Wolverines had, earning Penn State's first league victory. Also, that in previous road losses the valiant Wolverines had been unable to scale their way out of similar second-half holes. Both hustle & poise were necessary to defend our home court against the dastardly Spartans, & both hustle & poise were on display last night as the "leaders & best" fought back from a twelve-point deficit in the second half. Let us hope this signals a return to the valiant Wolverines' dominant early-season form just in time for tournament play.

Next: The regular season finale, Indiana at the Crisler Center on Sunday afternoon. After that, the Big Ten Tournament, to which the valiant Wolverines might yet earn a first-round bye.

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
George Duning, "I Wish I Could" from Bell, Book, and Candle: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (T.L.A.M.)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Operation AXIOM
"Remember the Alamo!" One hundred seventy-seven years ago to the day, 6 March 1836, Mexican forces stormed the Alamo Mission & massacred the Texian rebel defenders. Within two months, resurgent Texian rebels defeated the Mexican army & secured the de facto independence of the Republic of Texas, setting the stage for the eventual annexation of Texas by the United States (1845) & the Mexican War (1846-1848), which influences relations between the U.S. & Mexico unto the present day. One hundred seventy-seven years ago to-day.

United States of America (Estados Unidos de América)

United Mexican States (Estados Unidos Mexicanos)

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
unknown, "South of the Border (Down Mexico Way)" from Songs in the Key of Springfield (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Songs in the Key of Springfield is a C.D. from the late 1990s, a compilation of music from The Simpsons, which was not yet a loathsome abomination. The track is formally titled "Kamp Krusty," after the episode from which it is taken, & before "South of the Border (Down Mexico Way)" begins there is an exchange betwixt Bart Simpson & Krusty the Klown, but for our purposes the song's the thing. No clue is given as to who sings "South of the Border (Down Mexico Way)."

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Victors: Project OSPREY
Sunday, 3 March 2013
(№ 4) Michigan 58-57 Michigan State (№ 9)
24-5, Big Ten 11-5

Huzzah! Any victory by the valiant Wolverines over the dastardly Spartans is to be feted, Sunday's especially as it followed on the heels of our most ignominious loss. Additionally, the valiant Wolverines extended their (slight) domination of the recent internecine series, prevailing in four of the last six contests. True, the valiant Wolverines squandered a second-half lead, but they also hustled not to allow victory to slip from their grasp in the waning minutes. That said, though, it is yet too soon to say that the Maize & Blue ship has been righted; as I strive to remind my fellow Wolverines, neither the Big Ten nor the N.C.A.A. Tournaments will be played within the friendly confines of the Crisler Center, & the valiant Wolverines have not won a game outside of Crisler in over a month—0-4 on the road, contrasting with 5-0 at home. We have problems that have not yet been resolved, a single-elimination post-season play provides for precious little margin of error. The valiant Wolverines are a brilliantly talented club, but young & to all appearances mentally fragile. Will they find their mettle in the next fortnight, before the "Big Dance" begins? Let us hope so.

Go Blue!

This Week in Motorsport
By Endurance We Conquer
Rolex Sports Car Series
Round 2
Grand-Am of the Americas
Saturday, 2 March 2013

This was only the second race I'd seen at Austin's new Circuit of the Americas (C.O.T.A.), following November's F1 United States Grand Prix. C.O.T.A. is a fantastic course, facilitating quality racing, the mountainous climb up the front straight to Turn 1 being the circuit's signature feature. Alas, the race also served to remind me that the endurance aspect was the facet of the 24 Hours of Daytona that really caught my fancy, neither the Daytona Prototypes nor frankly inferior G.T. field (compared to the American Le Mans Series's (A.L.M.S.) peerless G.T. field). 2013 is an odd year, the last season of both the A.L.M.S. & the Rolex Series, as the Grand-Am Road Racing Association, a subsidiary of N.A.S.C.A.R., now owns the A.L.M.S. & plans to run a single unified endurance series from '14 onwards. I'll continue to watch Grand-Am races when there isn't any other, better racing available, but I do so with little passion.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Cherry Poppin' Daddies, "Jump in the Line (Shake Shake Senora)" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The title should be "Jump in the Line (Shake, Shake, Senora);" the commas are not optional. My favorite thing about the Cherry Poppin' Daddies is the long, often vicious, battle in their native Eugene, Oregon over the band's name, a battle that pitted advocates of free speech against anti-free speech activists (though they'd surely describe themselves as "anti-hate speech" activists) at the University of Oregon & surrounding environs. We imperil all of our liberties, as well as our human dignity, when we allow the right to speak freely to be trumped by an insidious right not to be offended.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Explorers' Club
№ CCCXXX - The Thirty Years' War, Part I: Prelude—The Peace of Augsburg (1555) & the rise of Calvinism, the Colonge War (1583-1588), the founding of the Protestant Union (1608) & the Catholic League (1609), the Jülich-Cleves War (1609-1614), the Twelve Years' Truce (signed 1609) of the Eighty Years' War, & the Spanish Road.

Commentary: Thus begins our series on the Thirty Years' War, a series that will run throughout March. This series is in response to a request from Doctor Hee Haw, my favorite sawbones. I've avoided the Thirty Years' War—a conflict that engulfed all of Europe & that persisted for the equivalent of from the beginning of the First World War to the end of the Second World War, a conflict that pounded the last nails into the casket of feudalism & secured Westphalian sovereignty's preeminence on the world stage—largely due to its massive scale. Even the several episodes of "The Explorers' Club" ahead will only scratch the surface of the topic's inexhaustible complexity. As ever, "The Explorers' Club" is never the last word on a subject, it is an invitation for each reader to embark upon her own exploration. Enjoy!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Flogging Molly, "Grace of God Go I" from Swagger (T.L.A.M.)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
James Darren, "That Old Black Magic" from This One's from the Heart (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Of late, I've been very interested in old movies with light supernatural themes, including a trilogy about a boring banker who is haunted by libertine ghosts—Topper, Topper Takes a Trip, & Topper Returns—& a pair of films—I Married a Witch & Bell, Book, and Candle—that surely must have influenced, if not outright inspired, the classic sitcom Bewitched. The first, second, & fourth films are all based on novels by Thorne Smith, with the third based on his characters from the first two films. I'm perfectly aware that "That Old Black Magic" isn't about black magic, but this make the song all the more fitting, as the supernatural isn't really the point of any of the aforementioned motion pictures.

Also, James Darren—
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Vic Fontaine. What more do you need?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

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Reel Big Fish, "Sell Out" (live) from Our Live Album Is Better Than Your Live Album, Disc 2: Move Fastly with the Fast Music (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Not the most serious way to end the R.B.D.S.O.T.D.'s week-long look at contemporary capitalism's flaws, perhaps, but don't be too hasty to sell "Sell Out" short. From the talentless clown auditioning for American Idol & its myriad clones to the high school athlete doping in pursuit of a scholarship to a prestigious university where he can spend four years majoring in preparing for the N.F.L. combine, one of the features of our economy—whether this constitutes a problem is up for debate–is the fierce, often desperate competition for the few jobs available as pop stars or professional athletes. More than economic considerations motivate this worship of the "fame monster" (thank you, Lady Gaga), but that is not to say economics play no part. "Sell Out" also addresses the tension between artistic self-expression & commercial success, a theme R.B.F. would revisit in their first album after the one-hit wonder success of "Sell Out," Why Do They Rock So Hard?.

"'Well, I know you can't work in fast food all your life,
But don't sign that paper tonight,' she said, but it's too late…

"Sell out! with me, oh yeah,
Sell out! with me tonight,
The record company's gonna give me lots of money
And everything's gonna be all right…

"'Baby, don't you sign that paper tonight,' she said,
But I can't work in fast food all my life."

Friday, March 1, 2013

Urbi et Orbi
For only the second time in my third of a century on the Earth, the Holy See is sede vacante, that is, the throne of Saint Peter is vacant. His Holiness Benedict XVI is now pope emeritus & the Church Militant is under the regency of the College of Cardinals until those same Princes of the Church meet in conclave to elect the next Bishop of Rome, the Apostolic Successor of Saint Peter. In an interesting coincidence, on the Sunday before Pope Benedict announced his resignation (abdication would be a better word, though that's verboten since we no longer speak of the coronation of the Holy Father) & retirement I prayed to the Lord Almighty thanking Him for protecting the Church from wicked popes for the last several centuries & asking Him to preserve her from wicked popes in the future. These pleas are not amongst my routine prayers & the memory of them promoted raised eyebrows when two days later the pope announced his plans to step down. Were superstition not a sin I might well describe the coincidence as "spooky."

I am attending a two-day (day & a half) retreat at my church on Saturday & Sunday, entitled Christ Renews His Parish (C.R.H.P., or "Chirp"). It's boosters, though scarcely disinterested parties, describe their own participation as "life changing." My usual attitude toward change echoes the stock trader from The Dark Knight Rises, "Wayne coming back is change. Change is either good or bad. I vote bad." But I must change my life if I am to break this self-defeating cycle in which I've trapped myself, must change my thinking if I am to lead a better Christian life. We shall see what changes Chirp can affect.

Th€ R€b€£ B£a¢k Dot $ong of th€ Da¥
Dropkick Murphys, "Worker's Song" from Blackout (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The Murphys' class-struggle economic analysis is tired, tiresome, & simplistic to the point of uselessness—embracing the self-serving malarkey that corporate attorneys & stock traders who spend eighty hours a week virtually shackled to their desks, never seeing their young families, are not "working" because they aren't wearing coveralls & aren't greasing the giant gears from some Soviet-inspired, W.P.A.-funded mural—but their rage is useful to this week's theme. Capitalism, even under the best of circumstances, prompts both rage & outrage; this discontent should not be ignored, lest it fester into something altogether more destructive.

"And we're always the last when the cream is shared out,
For the worker is working when the fat cat's about!"