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…"