Thursday, October 31, 2013

Operation AXIOM

Happy Hallowe'en to one & all! Even I, The Last Angry Man who finds fault in nearly everything & nearly everyone, take no issue with the contemporary American rituals commemorating All Hallows' Eve. 'Tis good, clean fun dressing up as someone or something else for a night of merrily threatening one's neighbors; the extortionary nature of the ultimatum, "Trick or treat," exposes the true nature of this wicked world, an excellent lesson for children to learn, even if it goes over most of their heads in their mad pursuit of sugary oblivion. It is also gratifying to see that for one night at least we, a culture that pretends to immortality, not only recognize but indeed celebrate the closeness of death, the intimacy of death to every life. Death cannot be avoided & it should not be ignored; one day we shall each of us journey to the Bard's "undiscovered Country," whether we wish to or not.

Happy Hallowe'en, everyone!

"Trick or treat,
Smell my feet,
Give me something good to eat!"

The Rebel Black Dot Song of Hallowe'en
Soundtrack & Theme Orchestra, "Bewitched Theme" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

The Explorers' Club, № CCCLXIV

The War of the Worlds, directed by & starring Orson Welles (1915-1985), & adapted from the novel by H. G. Wells (1866-1946)—the infamous 30 October 1938 episode of The Mercury Theatre on the Air.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Hallowe'en Song of the Day
The Atomic Fireballs, "Man with the Hex" from Torch This Place (T.L.A.M.)


"You remind me of a man,
(What man?)
O, the man with the power,
(What power?)
O, the power of voodoo,
(Who do?)
O, you do, you do,
(Do what?)…

"O, winkum, tinkum, nodimus rex,
Save us from the man with the hex,
Save us from his evil curse,
It's gonna get bad, yeah, it's gonna get worse.

"Hocus-pocus, alakazam,
Save us from that evil man,
With hairy legs and heavy feet,
He cracks the pavement as he creeps…"

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Hallowe'en Song of the Day
The Aquabats!, "Cat with 2 Heads!" from The Fury of the Aquabats! (Captain Thumbs Up!)

Commentary: The Hallowe'en-themed series of R.B.D.S.O.T.D. plain slipped my mind this year. I thought about it earlier in October, but as we entered the last third of the month I got caught up in other things, day-specific R.B.D.S.O.T.D. & the general excitement around Ki-El's wedding & the ersatz reunion with dear friends & vague acquaintances of old. But better late than never, I say. I see no compelling reason to end on 31st October, not when things are just getting rolling; so, prepare yourself for our standard eight-day celebration of the spooky, the bizarre, & the mischievous; of Samhain, trick-or-treating, & All Hallows' Eve. Boo!

"Cat with 2 Heads!" is a cautionary tale about my contention that mad science is the best science & an oddly poignant commentary on the responsibility that accompanies a life of privilege.

"Society has been so good to me,
My parents paid for my college education,
Majoring in biotechnology,
Created a beast and now it's after me!

"I was in my laboratory,
Creating what I thought would be,
Well, something great for the world:
A two-headed cat!
You could pet one kitty's head,
And pet the other kitty's head,
But little did I know the power of atomic energy
Would create a two-headed, man-eating monster!…"

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Less Than Jake, "Hell Looks a Lot Like L.A." from Borders & Boundaries (K. Steeze)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day After the Wedding
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, "Sunday Morning Coming Down" from Love Their Country (T.L.A.M.)


"Well, I woke up Sunday morning
With no way to hold my head that didn't hurt,
And the beer I had for breakfast wasn't bad
So I had one more for dessert…"

It has been said many times before & it will be said many times to come:

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

Saturday, October 26, 2013


B.T.Wedding! Just as B.T.West was pronounced "B-T-W-West" & B.T.WesTwo was pronounced "B-T-W-West-Two," B.T.Wedding should be read as "B-T-W-Wedding." That's right, another member of Blue Tree Whacking is joining the ranks of the Marrieds. Of course, much as was the case of The Guy's & The Gal's nuptials, this membership in the Marrieds is a pure formality, as the Blue Tree Whacker & his ladylove have been together for years, including cohabiting for longer than many marriages last. Hip hip! Hooray! Hip hip! Hooray! Hip hip! Hooray! For he is a jolly good fellow, & so say all of us.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day of the Wedding
Less Than Jake, "Pete Jackson Is Getting Married" from Borders & Boundaries (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I was tempted to choose Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back in Town," in commemoration of the too-rare gathering of the old gang, but, no, "Pete Jackson Is Getting Married" is the better choice, nay, the best choice, for the R.B.D.S.O.T.D.

"I can smell his cousin's Polo
Mixed with his grandpa's Old Spice,
The Swedish meatballs look so tempting
That his two fat aunts might even fight…

"…The mashed potatoes look so tasty
That his two fats aunts might even—
Nah nah nah nah nah…

"And on that day, what else could I say?
I'd say, 'Here's to you stayin' drunk,
Here's to all your good luck,
You're gonna need it!'"

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Marty Haugen, "Shepherd Me, O God (Psalm 23)" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: This has been one of my very favorite hymns ever since I first heard it as a lad.

"Shepherd me, O God,
Beyond my wants,
Beyond my fears,
From death into life…"

Thursday, October 24, 2013


I espied the distinctive Sonic the Hedgehog-themed Chevrolet Sonic yesterday: Wayback Machine. 'Twas parked, so I made two quick circles in the Lumi, the Distaff Son of the Mousemobile to confirm the details of the decal scheme. There are white outline decals of a running Sonic the Hedgehog on each front fender, betwixt the wheel well & the side mirror, & a white outline decal of a standing Sonic the Hedgehog, arms akimbo*, on the rear hatch, above the SONIC LT badge. (Alas, it is an LT, not an RS, as was hoped.) There is also a small Sonic the Hedgehog figure dangling from the rearview mirror. All in all, I give the owner/driver kudos for a well-executed theme; I considered leaving a note to that effect underneath one of the Sonic's windshield wipers, but deemed that to be too intrusive into a stranger's life. This otherwise comprehensively-themed Sonic would have been an excellent platform for a vanity plate, but 'twas not so.

Commentary: This is the hue of the Sonic Sonic, though the Sonic shown is in RS, not LT, trim.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
MxPx, "My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes to Bitburg)" from On the Cover II (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: One does not have to agree with a song's politics to like the song. Even if it is a cover.

*In the final, not-yet-produced finale to the Smith and Winkler film saga, Smith & Winkler face a villain—the chief henchman, in fact—named Arms Akimbo.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Explorers' Club, № CCCLXIII

Frank "Bring 'Em Back Alive" Buck (1884-1950).


I espied yesterday three motorcars driving in formation, nose to tail, each more identical than the last. The three autos' noses & tails were wrapped in some unknown material, all insignia & badges literally under wraps, while the bodies were painted in a white & black dazzle scheme (I've always preferred the more showy name "razzle-dazzle"), to obscure the fine details of the bodywork. Based on previous experience & the close proximity of Chrysler's world headquarters, I suspect the trio to belong to the larger Fiat Group fleet of vehicles, but what precise manner of Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, or Alfa-Romeo they might have been I cannot say.

Speaking of Chrysler products (remind me to relate the story of Where's Teddy?'s hilarious turn of phrase, "Speaking of canteens..."), when I approached the Lumi, the Distaff Son of the Mousemobile later that same day what should I see parked near my aging but still anonymous Lumina but that rolling embodiment of the ludicrous & the cool, the Dodge Viper. (An older-model Viper, so still a Dodge, not an S.R.T.) Not just a Viper, but a track-ready A.C.R. version, replete with enormous rear wing & carbon-fiber splitter & strakes up front. The "Snake" was painted black with a preposterously broad strip running the length of the mad machine, a stripe of the most hideous shade of neon green. There was a shiny snake-motiff border running around the vanity license plate, HAWLASP. (I presume this to be a play on "haul ass," the asp bit being both a successful bid to avoid foul language & a nod to the Viper's serpentine nature. I am puzzled as to why haul would be misspelt as "hawl." If there is already a HAULASP license plate out there, O.K., but if "HAWL" is purely a stylistic choice, then I narrow my eyes & shake my fist at the driver.) This was not the first Viper I've seen out in the wild, but it was the first of my experience to be equipped with so useful (on a race track) an aerodynamic device as that comically large rear wing. Not a rear spoiler, but an honest-to-Gurney rear wing.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Less Than Jake, "The Ghosts of Me and You" from Anthem (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The lyrics of "The Ghosts of Me and You" say both "the ghosts of me and you" & "the ghosts of you and me," depending on the need of the following line.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Ray Charles, "Shake a Tail Feather" from The Blues Brothers: Original Soundtrack Recording (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Never in a million years would you guess what motion picture I watched last night.

Montag, 21 Oktober
The Blues Brothers, "She Caught the Katy" from The Blues Brothers: Original Soundtrack Recording (T.L.A.M.)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Explorers' Club, № CCCLXII

Mount Fuji.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Les Italiens, "Ottomania" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Urbi et Orbi
It is quarter after eleven in the morning on a Saturday & you are already returned home after spending three-plus hours at your church. Something in your life has either gone really, really wrong or really, really right. Getting out of bed before 7:00 A.M. on a Saturday isn't fun, but being at a 7:30 A.M. Bible study/fellowship group sure is. Also, I've now completed the exhaustive (read: minimal) training to be a lector, just in time for the fiftieth anniversary, as I was reminded, of the Church's decision to allow the laity to proclaim the Scriptures as part of the Mass. So, woot!

Yes, I'm more involved in my church than ever before, but I am still the same guy I always was, both for good & for ill.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "You Can't Win" from A Jackknife to a Swan (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "You Can't Win" seems to be principally concerned with the excesses of capitalism, especially the notion of unscrupulous fat cats profiting by the ignorance &/or apathy of the everyman. From the frequent sleep imagery in the lyrics, I cannot help but think of the title of the surprisingly useful & worthwhile film Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

"They're wide awake while you're still in bed…"

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Letters to Cleo, "Sparkle Girl" from Go! (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The Insane Clown Posse would agree with me that there are times when exactly what you want to hear is Kay Hanley's voice.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
They Might Be Giants, "Damn Good Times" from The Spine (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Unlike the narrator of "Damn Good Times," your humble narrator is a natural dancer. In all modesty, I'm a living legend at wedding receptions.

"I'm not much of a natural dancer,
But I've got a friend who's a natural dancer,
You could call her a jumping bean,
She's got ants in her pants and she's gonna dance…"

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Explorers' Club, № CCCLXI

The Early Cold War, Part X: The detonation of the first Soviet atom bomb, R.D.S.-1, on 29 August 1949—code named/nicknamed "Article 501" or "First Lightning" by the U.S.S.R. & "Joe-1" by the U.S.A.

Cross-reference: The Early Cold War series, with addenda.

№ LXXXII—The Berlin Blockade.

№ LXXXIII—The Berlin Airlift.

Commentary: I know a fellow who was an Air Force pilot during the Berlin Airlift & flew relief flights into West Berlin.

№ CCCLI—The Yalta Conference.

№ CCCLII—The Potsdam Conference.

№ CCCLIII—The Long Telegram.

№ CCCLIV—The "Iron Curtain" speech.

№ CCCLV—The Truman Doctrine.

№ CCCLVI—The Czechoslovakian coup.

№ CCCLVII—The Marshall Plan.


№ CCCLIX—"Who lost China?"

№ CCCLX—The Tito-Stalin split.
The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Michael Bublé, "Haven't Met You Yet" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Promise you, kid, that I'll give so much more than I'll get…"

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A very introspective episode of "This Week in Motorsport" is coming as soon as I can cobble it together, reflecting on the most bloodstained year of my experience. If this isn't an especially cursed year, it certainly feels that way.

The Victors
I posted the following to the FaceSpace & thus far it has been well-received by my fellow Wolverines:
Al Borges must be fired with immediate effect. Michigan's offense under Borges is so inept that I cannot help but recall the lyrics from Jason Segal's "Dracula's Lament" (from Forgetting Sarah Marshall):

"It's getting kind 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 lessons I've learned…"
Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Icon for Hire, "Theatre" from Scripted (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: To-day's R.B.D.S.O.T.D. dovetails nicely with a bit of Scripture I stumbled upon (or was lead to?) last night just before retiring. First, some lyrics from "Theatre":

"What happened to the girl
Who could overlook the world?
She never gave a second thought
To what the other people thought.
What happened to the dream
Of rejecting their routine?
'Cause it never worked for me.

"I'm gonna burn this theater down,
I pray to God for the strength to help me face the crowd…"

Now, the Second Letter to Timothy, chapter four, verses one through five (2 Timothy, 4:1-5):
I charge you in the presence of God & of Christ Jesus, Who will judge the living & the dead, & by His appearing & His kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience & teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires & insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers & will stop listening to the truth & will be diverted to myths. But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry.
The world would have us behave one way (not the world alone, but the world, the flesh, & the devil), but for myself I have never felt at ease with this path. Throughout my life this discomfort has manifested itself as weirdness, as awkwardness, as a sadly prideful non-conformity. As no lesser an authority than Mrs. Skeeter, Esq. once remarked, "Since when do you care what other people think?" Not to no useful purpose was my struggle: I find myself, as do we all, confronted by a world that will not tolerate sound doctrine, by persons who have been diverted by myths, but, conditioned not to care a whit for the world's corrupt & fallen teachings by a lifetime of not fitting in, I find myself prepared & equipped to put up with this hardship, to be persistent, to work as an evangelist, to fulfill my ministry.

I remain a jolly fat man (still grappling with the deadly sins of sloth & gluttony) who strives always to overlook the world, to never give a second thought to what other people think, to reject their routine.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Victors

Saturday, 12 October 2013
Penn State 43-40 Michigan (№ 18) (4 O.T.)
5-1, Big Ten 1-1

No one should be surprised by our loss. We have played so poorly, so apathetically, that we should have lost three games by this point; we didn't win against either Akron or U.Conn., we simply managed not to lose. Against Penn State, the offense's propensity for turnovers, the defense's inability to pressure quarterbacks & general vulnerability to the aerial game, & the coaches' ineptitude all came home to roost. The ferocious Nittany Lions tried to give the game away, & made nearly as many mistakes as we did, but they played to win, whereas too often we played not to lose. We had the opportunity to attempt a long field goal with approximately a minute left in regulation. At the time, we led by seven & a field goal would have sealed the victory. Instead, we punted the ball into the end zone for a net gain of maybe fifteen yards, & Penn State marched down the field in no time at all to score the tying touchdown. Capricious fortune gave us the chance to kick an even longer field goal in the dying seconds, but our place kicker chocked under the pressure & kicked the ball short. (His kick was long enough to have counted from the earlier field-goal mark, the one at which brilliant Brady Hoke & his crack offensive staff decided to punt—not even pooch punt, but kick a regular, long distance punt—to set up Penn State's game-tying drive.) In overtime time, we never played for a touchdown, always relying on the field goal to carry the day. In the second overtime time, when Penn State went first on offense & fumbled the ball, any score would have carried the day. We didn't make even a perfunctory attempt to score a touchdown, we played solely to kick a field goal, which the ferocious Nittany Lions promptly blocked.

I am incapable of insightful analysis, so full of rage & despair am I. Never before, not even during last year's atrocious quintet of losses, have I had so little faith in Coach Hoke & his staff (my long-standing opposition to our incompetent offensive coordinator Al Borges being the most prominent exception). On Saturday, we played as if Rich Rod was still our head coach. Doom, doom, doom. How many games will Michigan lose this year? The back half of the schedule is Indiana, Michigan State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Iowa, & Ohio State, & the valiant Wolverines club that played so poorly against Akron, U.Conn, & Penn State is fully capable of losing four of those six games. Brady Hoke came to Michigan with a 47-51 record as a head coach, & a reputation for turning clubs around. He's certainly turned Michigan around—we're getting worse every year! The '12 valiant Wolverines were worse than the over-achieving '11 valiant Wolverines, & '13 is shaping up to be a much worse year that '12. Maybe I'm overreacting. As I said, I am incapable of insightful analysis right now. But we looked so bad against Penn State, the same way we looked bad against U.Conn. & Akron. Devin Gardner turned the ball over three times——three times!—again. We are not making any tangible improvement as the season goes on.

It is time to start thinking about firing Brady Hoke. I'm not saying that we should do anything as panicky or foolhardy as firing him midseason, or even at the end of this year, no matter how bad things get. What I am advocating is that we start to have a conversation about concrete targets for growth & improvement within the program, targets that he & his bumbling staff must meet next year, or in 2015 at the latest. Al Borges must be fired with immediate effect, because his offense does not work.

Next: Indiana, a club that defeated Penn State by a score of 44-24. The jackals (sports reporters) who decide the A.P. poll have been smart enough to boot our sorry hides out of the Top 25, but those boobs the coaches still have us ranked № 24, the fools.

Go Blue!

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

Sonntag, 13 Oktober
Topol, et al., "To Life" from Fiddler On the Roof (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: L'chaim!

Samstag, 12 Oktober
Less Than Jake, "Bad Scene and a Basement Show" from Borders & Boundaries (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I've always been fascinated by the fact that the title of the song is "Bad Scene and a Basement Show," not "Bad Scene at a Basement Show." A song selected with the Penn State game foremost in my mind.

"It gets worse before it's all over,
I know I'll get through this somehow,
It gets worse before it's all over…

"It gets worse before it's all over,
It gets worse before it's all over,
It gets worse before it's all over,
Nothin's gonna change your mind for now!…"

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Queue

I found Ross Douthat's conclusions in Bad Religion to be insightful, well-argued, & well-supported. The great oversight of the book is a lack of analysis of the New Atheism. It is sprinkled throughout the chapter on Christian accommodation & the chapters on the various 21st century heresies, but never confronted directly. Mayhap Douthat thinks it too small, too much the preserve of a genuinely tiny minority, to be addressed in greater detail, but I was slightly disappointed. I recommend the book to all, believers & non-believers alike, & would be only too happy to loan out my own copy. The Guy? I'm looking at you. California Dreamer?

Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics
Prologue: A Nation of Heretics

Part I: Christianity in Crisis
One: The Lost World
Two: The Locust Years
Three: Accommodation
Four: Resistance

Part II: The Age of Heresy
Five: Lost in the Gospels
Six: Pray and Grow Rich
Seven: The God Within
Eight: The City on the Hill

Conclusion: The Recovery of Christianity

I am drawn to several of the non-ficton books that I was gifted for my birthday, but remain convinced that I must adhere to the queue as given below, in no small part because so many of those books have sat there for so long & been so often the victims of line-jumping by other more immediately-favored books. They deserve their chance.

Thor Heyerdahl, translated by F. H. Lyon, Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific by Raft
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

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***

I had occasion on Thursday to drive into the heart of Grand Blanc, my hometown, & what should I spy? A Maserati GranTurismo cabriolet, styled the GranCabrio. A Maserati, perhaps the only automobile in the world as beautiful as an Aston Martin. Grand Blanc, I love ya!

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Echosmith, "Cool Kids" via iTunes, (free) Single of the Week (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: 'Twas a very liberating moment for your humble narrator, as a lad, when he realized he would never be one of the cool kids.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Blue Tree Whacking Song of the Day
Murky Transport Disaster, "The Gummi Bears Theme Song" from The Murky Transport Disaster Disaster Transport Transport Disaster (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The Murky Transport Disaster Disaster Transport Transport Disaster is dedicated "in loving memory" of The Guy, who has yet to meet his demise. Murky Transport Disaster was the second B.T.W. band, & the first of which The Last Angry Man was a part. Mike Wilson was a member of neither Murky Transport Disaster nor Real Can of Yams; that honor fell to The Last Angry Man.

Murky Transport Disaster
Real Can of Yams
Super Boat Warp (?)

The album's title does make sense, if one takes a second to break it down to its constituent elements. Murky Transport Disaster, the band, were transporting Disaster Transport, the erstwhile roller coaster, when there was some manner of disaster. Like so:

Murky Transport Disaster
Disaster Transport
Transport Disaster.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Zooey Deschanel Appreciation Day

I include the following tragically hip hyperlink because items № 23 & № 26 feature images from New Girl, another of which also accompanied the hyperlink when initially spied on the FaceSpace, in my "feed" courtesy of a distaff acquaintance in her mid twenties who resembles, ever so slightly, a blonde Miss Deschanel: Buzzfeed-link. (Of course, it is entirely possible than the slight resemblance extends no further than this acquaintance's thick-framed spectacles, her penchant for summer dresses, & my lust for her.)

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Icon for Hire, "Up in Flames" from Scripted (T.L.A.M.)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
James Brown, "The Old Landmark" from The Blues Brothers: Original Soundtrack Recording (T.L.A.M.)

The Victors

Saturday, 5 October 2013
(№ 19) Michigan 42-13 Minnesota
5-0, Big Ten 1-0

The Little Brown Jug, the oldest rivalry trophy in college football, will remain in Ann Arbor for another year, & the valiant Wolverines prevailed on Homecoming (every home team should win their homecoming game); those are two grand reasons to celebrate. Woot! Quarterback Devin Gardner was also less monumentally dreadful than he had been in the previous two games, against Akron & U.Conn., & that too is a reason for, if not celebration, at least good cheer. Alas, that's pretty much the end of the good news. The game was much closer, the contest much tighter, than one would glean from a casual glance at the score. The luckless Golden Gophers aren't a very good football club, but they gave the valiant Wolverines nearly everything Michigan could handle. Gardner was still hesitant & panicky when pressured, & his passes were frequently inaccurate, though not as disastrously so as in September. The receiving corps did an excellent job of helping to rebuild the shaky Gardner's shattered confidence, coming back to catch a number of badly under thrown balls. The defense showed flashes of dominant brilliance & flashes of absolute ineptitude; better clubs, those to be faced deeper in the Big Ten season, will slash the valiant Wolverines' pass defense for scores & scores of both yards & points, unless there is rapid & radical improvement by the secondary. The interception for a touchdown—referred to, to my great annoyance, as a "pick six"—in the dying seconds of the game notwithstanding, the best defensive play was a broken up touchdown pass in the fourth quarter; the Minnesota receiver was in position & their quarterback threw the ball well, but defensive back Raymon Taylor did a magnificent job of getting his hand on the ball & knocking it away. If that is a sign of things to come, rapid & radical improvement might just be possible.

I would be grateful just for the win, except that we are supposed to be "back," we are supposed to be Michigan again, a club that expects to dispatch lesser opponents with a minimum of effort & drama. The days of being grateful for a win, any win, are supposed to be behind us. Still, I suppose I should be glad for the very first game Gardner has started in which he did not throw an interception, did not account for a single turnover; strike that, given the near-disasters against Akron & U.Conn., I am glad for Gardner's first turnover-free game. He still doesn't deserve to wear Tom Harmon's number, 98, & the valiant Wolverines don't deserve to be ranked in the Top 25, much less № 19 (№ 18 in the new A.P. poll released Sunday night), but there is hope that September's duo of near-upsets might yet become just amusing footnotes to a successful 2013 campaign.

Next: On the road, against the fearsome Nittany Lions of Penn State.

Go Blue!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Urbi et Orbi

I strive mightily not to hate the stupid, but they make it so very hard sometimes. I do mean the mentally impaired or developmentally challenged, I mean the stupid. In my usage, stupidity is not the same as a general lack of intellectual sophistication; stupidity is that lack paired with delusions of grandeur about one's own intelligence. Those who aren't very bright are not stupid, only those who aren't very bright & yet think themselves blindingly luminous.

To-night, I was confronted with a very stupid man preaching hatred in the name of the Almighty. He confesses himself to be a man of no great intellectual heft, & yet he qualifies as stupid because he repeats as Gospel truth every self-described Christian apologist's opinions, no matter how half-baked or anti-Scriptural. His latest gem: all Jews are atheists. The Jews are the world's greatest atheists, because they deny the Christ. He repeated discarded & discredited late Mediaeval & early modern anti-Semitism as if it was new & novel, as if the beastly fellow from whom he cribbed the idea had thought it up all on his own—the first man in history to have the divinely-inspired notion. For the last six months I have been involved in a retreat organization called Christ Renews His Parish (C.R.H.P., or "Chirp"). This man, this self-denying anti-Semite, had been appointed to a position of some authority within "Chirp" by our pastoral vicar, our parish priest. I only hope that Father does not know what truly lies in this stupid man's heart. C.R.H.P. has been a marvelous, sacramental experience, but now I am questioning whether my involvement in it is moral, or if I've been horribly deceived into being a part of something evil & ungodly.

The Explorers' Club, № CCCLX

The Early Cold War, Part IX: The Free Territory of Trieste (1947), the "Cominform" (Communist Information Bureau) (1947), & the split between Marshal Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union & Marshal Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia (1948).

Commentary: This series, "The Early Cold War," has progress roughly chronologically, & so the episode on the Tito-Stalin split was meant to precede the episode on the People's Republic of China, as happened chronologically. But we had a strong desire to publish that latter episode on or near the 1 October anniversary of the P.R.C.'s founding & our running behind schedule (it's like we're an Italian railroad—as soon as we catch up we cannot resist falling behind schedule again) prevented us from doing so in chronological order, with China as Episode № CCCLX; so, the P.R.C. was moved up to № CCCLIX & the Tito-Stalin split was bumped to to-day's № CCCLX. I know, this is inside baseball, but such is my persnicketiness that I thought you were owed an explanation.

Also, there is only one more episode of "The Early Cold War," replete with a collection of useful hyperlinks to the whole series & beyond.
The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Undeclinable Ambuscade, "Not Again" from Short Music for Short People (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Like all the other songs on Short Music for Short People, "Not Again" is but half a minute long (thirty-one seconds). Short, short, short, but in the shower this morning I started singing, "…against the world…" over & over again, not precisely remembering the rest of the brief lyrics, presented here in their entirety.

"No, not again,
Against the world,
Why always us against the world?
No, not again,
Not us again,
Why always us against the world?"

Sonntag, 6 Oktober
Mike Park, "Korea Is So Far Away" from Mailorder Is Still Fun!! (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Chosen in honor of Sunday's running of the F1 Korean Grand Prix. This is a wildly inappropriate choice, since "Korea Is So Far Away" is a serious song about interracial romance & the resistance to assimilation in immigrant populations, but there you go. Sometimes that's just how the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. works.

"Korea is so far away,
Korea is so far away,
And this is my special friend,
We'd meet secretly in the park
And wonder why we couldn't share ourselves.
Korea is so, is so far away—

"Well, I want to share my round-eyed devil with you,
And she's not so different from you…"

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Less Than Jake, "The Science of Selling Yourself Short" from Anthem (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: If I had a theme song, it would be "Simmer Down" by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, but that really might be more entrance music than a real theme song. My truly thematic theme song might well be "The Science of Selling Yourself Short," because I am a superlative scientist.

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Yuengling I am drinking, after returning home sweaty & grease-stained from the first K. of C. fish fry of the season (we do one a month through the fall to get us ready for the weekly grind of Lent's meatless Fridays; think of it as the pre-season or spring training), is one of the most delicious libations I have ever imbibed. Rather, it is one of the most delicious beverages I have had of any kind, hard or soft. There are sublime moments in which exactly what you wanted is exactly what you needed & it turns out to be every bit as great, if not even better, than you'd hoped. This is one of those moments, & I am happy.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
King Apparatus, "Tom Metzger's Big Plan" from King Apparatus (T.L.A.M.)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Operation AXIOM

Twenty years ago to the day, 3 October 1993, the First Battle of Mogadishu was fought between special operations forces of the United States Army & the khat-fueled militia of Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. The battle is sometime known by the name of the book written by Mark Bowden, subsequently made into a major motion picture, Black Hawk Down. It is difficult to remember now, after thousands were murdered on 9/11 & thousands more gave the last full measure of devotion in a decade of war in Afghanistan & Iraq, the shock & trauma of nineteen American soldiers killed in the streets of a faraway, benighted city; of some of their bodies being desecrated & dragged through those same streets; of American helicopters shot out of the sky by rocket-propelled grenades. This came only two years after the glorious, almost bloodless triumph of the Gulf War, of Operation DESERT STORM & "These colors don't run." The U.S.-led U.N. mission in Somalia was humanitarian in nature. Amidst widespread chaos & famine, the warlord had hijacked & otherwise obstructed the delivery of international relief supplies, of food & medicine; in one of his last acts in office, the first President Bush sent in the United States Marine Corps to ensure the smooth delivery of the international aid (Operation RESTORE HOPE). Once the flow of food was restored, the Marines were withdrawn & a much smaller contingent of special operations forces—the Rangers, Delta Force, & the 160th S.O.A.R.—stayed behind to arrest the warlord Aidid & bring him to some form of international "justice" (Operation GOTHIC SERPENT). Within six months of the First Battle of Mogadishu, all U.S. armed forces were withdrawn from Somalia, which was allowed to fall further & further into anarchy. (Somalia is still a failed state, & the world is still reaping that particular whirlwind, as illustrated by last week's brutal siege of the Westgate shopping mall/office complex in Nairobi, Kenya, by al-Shabaab, a jihadist militia affiliated with al-Qaeda.) Eighteen American soldiers, a Malaysian peacekeeper, & upwards of a thousand Somali militiamen were killed in the First Battle of Mogadishu; the Medal of Honor was awarded, posthumously, to Delta Force snipers Master Sergeant Gordon & Sergeant First Class Shughart; Secretary of Defense Les Aspin resigned amid criticism that he has denied U.S. forces in Somalia the armed fighting vehicles & heavy air support that might have forestalled or at least saved numerous lives during the battle. Black Hawk Down, twenty years ago to-day.
I really should be used it by now, after all these moustachioed years, yet I still find myself discouraged when a hair over an inch long simply falls out of my moustache. Hairs come & hairs go, this I learned long ago, & the success of the array of whiskers is not contingent upon any single hair. Yet when a hair gives up the ghost, I fear that my moustache has reached its zenith, that it's all down hill from here. That wouldn't be so bad, if this was all there was. I enjoy my moustache & the smiles it puts on the faces of strangers. Yet in my vanity I yearn for more, I yearn to sport a moustache of heroic proportions. Stay the course lad, & count your bewhiskered blessings.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Flogging Molly, "Selfish Man" from Swagger (T.L.A.M.)


"I don't eat I just devour,
Everyone and every hour,
All is me is all I need
And that's all that I care.
Propelled through all this madness
By your beauty and my sadness,
I'll never change or rearrange
'Til I've finished what I've started.
And life it leads me here,
It showed me I have never really loved no one but me,
Like the time that slipped through my hand
And I'll never understand
Why I'm such a selfish man…"

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Explorers' Club, № CCCLIX

The Early Cold War, Part VIII: The final phase of the Chinese Civil War (1945-1950), the founding of the People's Republic of China (1949), & the "Who lost China?" debate.

Commentary: Yesterday, 1 October, was the anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, sixty-four years since Chairman Mao stood atop the Gate of Heavenly Peace (the Tiananmen) & declared that "China has stood up." Scores of millions of Chinese would die of violence or starvation in the twenty-seven years Mao misruled the Middle Kingdom.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "You Left Right?" from Pin Points and Gin Joints (T.L.A.M.)


"Are you regretful? Are ya?
Are you remorseful? Are ya?
Are you successful? Or are ya
Just tryin' to make it through?
Did your whole world just shatter?
Are you happy or sadder?
Does it really matter?
Did I matter to you?"

Dienstag, 1 Oktober
Marty Haugen, "Shepherd Me, O God (Psalm 23)" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Yesterday was the feast day of "the Little Flower of Jesus," Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.
I spied two noteworthy vanity license plates this morning, one on the way to my new dentist's office & one on the way from my new dentist's office. The first, F1REDUP, is presumably meant to be read "Fired Up." I wonder if elsewhere in sacred Michigan there is a motorcar with the vanity plate FIREDUP, or if the driver of F1REDUP replaced the "I" with a "1" for purely stylistic reasons. (Or, the motorist could be a Formula One fan, who is fired up about F1.)

The second vanity plate was HORSE32. The owner is presumably an aficionado of heroin.