Monday, March 31, 2014

The Explorers' Club, № CCCLXXXVI

The life & career of Neville Chamberlain (1869-1940).

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Sam & Dave, "Soul Man" from the Rhino Hi-Five: Same & Dave E.P. (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Soul Man" features possibly my favorite guitar part of all time, the dancing bit underneath the verses.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Victors

Win, lose, or draw, it's always great to be a Michigan Wolverine. This rots, but it's great to be a Michigan Wolverine.

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
The University of Michigan Marching Band, "Temptation" from Hurrah for the Yellow and Blue (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "And now we feature our percussion section in a Michigan tradition. Ladies and gentlemen, 'Temptation'… You can't have one without the other. Ladies and gentlemen, the 'Hawaiian War Chant.'"

The University of Michigan Marching Band, "Hawaiian War Chant" from Hurrah for the Yellow and Blue (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, March 29, 2014


On Friday night at the U. of M.-Flint History Department's eleventh annual History Quiz Night, a community event that is attended by far more burghers & alumni than undergraduates, my team, the unfortunately named Misty Beavers, earned the victory. More to follow, circumstance allowing.

"Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!"

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Queen, "We Are the Champions" from Greatest Hits (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: In tribute to my fellow Misty Beavers & our fearless leader, Red Patton.

"We are the champions, my friends,
And we'll keep on fightin' 'til the end.
We are the champions!
We are the champions!
No time for losers
'Cause we are the champions of the world!…

"I consider it a challenge before the whole human race,
And I'd never lose!…"

Friday, March 28, 2014

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


"And Windy has stormy eyes
That flash at the sound of lies…"

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Real Can of Yams, "Pontiac Button: Activate!" from Good or Suck! (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Dedicated, with affection & gratitude, to The Guy; he knows why.

"If your car won't start
And nothing else will work,
There's a secret part,
You won't look like a jerk…"

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Explorers' Club, № CCCLXXXV

The life & career of Sir Austen Chamberlain (1863-1937).

Commentary: Chamberlain was a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize back when such was a laudable achievement. He did not win it simply for being Sir Austen Chamberlain (as was the case with President Obama), but for the diplomatic triumph of the Treaty of Locarno (1925).

This photograph of the Nobel Peace Prize is anachronistic, as that is not what the medal looked like in 1926, but is used here because it is a very nice, well composed image.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Flogging Molly, "Devil's Dance Floor" from Swagger (T.L.A.M.)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Urbi et Orbi

"Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!"

'Tis the holy season of Lent, & beyond that today in particular is the Feast of the Annunciation, the glorious celebration of the day on which the Archangel Gabriel appeared to the Blessed Virgin & announced to her the Good News that a Savior was to be born for the forgiveness of sin. To Mary fell the colossal responsibility of bearing the Christ Child, but to her eternal credit & our overwhelming joy, she gladly accepted her commission from the God of her fathers; the God of Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob; the great I Am. I have been joyous all day, being perhaps not as solemn as the occasion might warrant, but smiling. It was this joy that lead me to the remembrance of Monty Python's "The Spanish Inquisition," which then further enhanced my joy. I thank the Lord for this day.

The Four Weapons
1. fear
2. surprise
3. ruthless efficiency
4. an almost fanatical devotion to the pope*
5. nice red uniforms

*Of course, one of the defining features of the real Spanish Inquisition is that it was not under papal authority, but instead answered to the Crowns of Castile & Aragon. Titus Oates, the perjurer & anti-Catholic zealot, would feel quite at home in the United Kingdom, where anti-Catholicism seems to be the national pastime & an entirely acceptable prejudice. But, as far as British slander against Catholics goes, the mischaracterization of the Spanish Inquisition as being almost fanatically devoted to the papacy is small potatoes.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Barenaked Ladies, "One Week" from Stunt (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: One week 'til SKApril '14. The ska songs are chomping at the bit.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Queue

Progress through Liberal Fascism has been slower than I'd prefer, but there are only so many hours in the day & only so much self-discipline in this beggar's soul. I'm about one-third of the way through & thus far it makes for chilling, tightly argued reading. I'm setting it aside for the nonce in favor of an addition to my Lenten preparations, His Holiness Pope Francis's first encyclical, Lumen Fidei. I've not before read a papal encyclical, so this should be novel as well as illuminating.

Mark Mazzetti, The Way of the Knife: The C.I.A., a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth
Christian Caryl, Strange Rebels: 1979 and the Birth of the 21st Century
Helene Wecker, The Golem and the Jinni

Pope Francis, Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith)
Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning ***paused***

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

Lately Neglected
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, or The Matter, Forme, & Power of a Common-wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civill
Edmund Burke, The Evils of Revolution
F. J. Sheed, Theology for Beginners

Project OSPREY
My bracket is bruised, but not completely busted: nine of my predicted clubs advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, including all of my Final Four & seven of my Elite Eight projections. I had Duke advancing to the sweet Sixteen, but then being defeated by Michigan, so the epithetless Blue Devils' Round o' 64 upset didn't upset my bracket too terribly much. My biggest personal bust so far has been Oho State, who in a fit of league pride I picked as advancing to the Elite Eight (& there being felled by Florida). I did not participate in the Billion Dollar Bracket competition, from which every one of the millions of entrants has already been excluded; I once won the house N.C.A.A. pool, back at 1213, & I've always known that with that win I exhausted my lifetime allotment of sports-related gambling winnings.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Shane Harper, "Hold You Up" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: From the motion picture God's Not Dead, which I recommend highly. 'Tis not perfect, but it gets more things right than it gets wrong. Also, Lent!

Sonntag, 23 März
James Brown, "The Old Landmark" from The Blues Brothers: Original Soundtrack Recording (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Always remember, possessors of filthy mouths & bad attitudes though they were, Joliet Jake & Elwood were really & truly "on a mission from God." He moves in mysterious ways & often in answer to prayer He sends one of us, sinners though we are.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Last night, after I cleaned up from the K. of C. fish fry, & after two false starts on other dates, I joined Ska Army for a pint (or four) at the metropolitan area's newest hot spot, the Fenton Fire Hall. We enjoyed overpriced, pretentious craft beer, good conversation, & running into every single person either of us knows. Granted, that's an exaggeration, but even though I've said many times, "Flint's not that big a town, you're bound to run into someone you know," never before had those words rung so true, especially so many miles outside of Flint proper. Fenton has been booming in the 21st century, absorbing those fleeing both Flint's decay & Oakland County's high cost of living. I liked the Fire Hall, but it was disconcerting to see so many familiar faces on my very first visit.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Foo Fighters, "Learn to Fly" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
James Cromwell, "If I Had Words" from Babe: Original Soundtrack (T.L.A.M.)


"If I had words to make a day for you
I'd sing you a morning golden and true,
I would make this day last for all time,
Then fill the night deep in moonshine…"

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Perchance to Dream

I had a nightmare about insects infesting the house last night. It wasn't quite Arachnophobia—still & always an absolutely terrifying motion picture—but the queen bug was substantially bigger than anything in my personal experience, which is itself a blessing for which I am most thankful. I fought the infestation—which was associated with significant structural damage even though most of the bugs were ants, not termites—with chemicals in spray cans, but now that I reflect back on it I wish my dream-self had thought to swing a shovel. It might not have been terrible effective, but the violence of the act would have been tremendously reassuring. It was an honest-to-Phobetor nightmare.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Brother Bones & His Shadows, "Sweet Georgia Brown" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Sweet Georgia Brown" is widely recognized as the theme song of the Harlem Globetrotters. As such, methinks it a serviceable theme song for all of basketball, & it was in this vein that it was chosen as the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. on the (real) opening day of the N.C.A.A. Division I Men's Basketball Championship, A.K.A. "March Madness." I hope that your circumstances permit you to watch this orgy of basketball 'til your eyes bleed. Comes the Madness!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Déanta, "Culloden's Harvest" from Green Linnet Records: The Twentieth Anniversary Collection (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Green Linnet Records: The Twentieth Anniversary Collection was released in 1994, & my family acquired the C.D. just a couple years later. Though I've listened to these songs for almost two decades, last night was the first time I really heard the lyrics of "Culloden's Harvest," a lament about the Jacobite defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1745. Truly, a lament. As the archtraitor General Lee is reputed to have said, in 1862, "It is well that war is so terrible—otherwise we would grow too fond of it."

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Project OSPREY

The devil take sound judgment, my bracket predicts the valiant Wolverines of the University of Michigan as national champions. I fill out my bracket in indelible ink, not in wavering graphite. (Also, yes, I'm old school & still fill out a paper bracket, instead of a too-cool-for-school, space-age online bracket. I do so love paper, but that's a topic for another day.)

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Wally Dogger, "I.T. Is for Rock Stars" from I Surrender, When Do I Start? (T.L.A.M.)


"I.T. is for rock stars.
I only own three dress shirts,
You got a doctorate,
But I can use bigger words
Like (gibberish),
And you just shake your head
'Cause I know you're impressed with me.
I work in I.T.…"

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Explorers' Club, № CCCLXXXIV

The life & career of Joseph Chamberlain (1836-1914).

Operation AXIOM

We here at The Secret Base have almost as much disdain for the contemporary American celebration of "St. Paddy's Day" as we do for the modern Valentine's Day. What has the drinking of green-tinted non-Irish beer, the dying green of urban waterways, & the wearing of cheap, crass "Kiss Me I'm Irish" clothing to do with Saint Patrick & the Christianization of Hibernia? Think my opposition to this festival of anti-irish mockery makes me a killjoy? Call me back when we have a socially acceptable national holiday dedicated to depicting black Americans' African ancestors as drunkards & wee mystical sprites.

Liberty & Union: Obamboozled
Twice this morning I rang my health insurance company over the abrupt cancellation of my coverage (the second such cancellation in six months, since this is the replacement for the plan that was cancelled in the fall due to Obamacare). Twice Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan's (B.C.B.S.M.) information technology (I.T.) systems were down. The first customer service representative stated he'd ring me back as soon as those systems were restored; he did so, but the call was dropped almost as soon as I answered it, due to the vagaries of cellular 'phone technology. The second representative told me that she'd been instructed to ask customers to ring back sometime after noon. She couldn't comment specifically on my policy's cancellation, due to the ongoing I.T. shenanigans, but told me that a number of policies had been mistakenly cancelled.

I never had any issues with my old, catastrophic-only coverage. My new, mistakenly cancelled (?) plan costs thirty-eight per cent (38%) more than my old plan. If you voted for President Obama &/or any Democrat in the Congress, either the House of Representative or the Senate, who voted in favor of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act—"Obamacare"—I thank you for the thirty-eight per cent increase in my insurance bill; for the hours I spend in the fall arranging for new coverage; & for the time I spent this morning, & will spend this afternoon, on the line with B.C.B.S.M. Thank you for making me spend on insurance I don't want money I'd rather put toward Project RADIANT (the repayment of my pecuniary debts).

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Aloe Blacc, "I Need a Dollar" via iTunes, (Free) Single of the Week (T.L.A.M.)


"Bad times a-coming
And I done reaped what I done sown…"

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Victors | Project OSPREY

"If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same…"
—Rudyard Kipling, "If—"

B1G Tournament Final
(№ 22) Michigan State 69-55 Michigan (№ 8)
25-8, Big Ten 17-4

Drat! The dastardly Spartans played a solid game, but the blame for the loss falls squarely on ourselves. We shot in the 20% range not because of Michigan State's defense, but because we picked a lousy time to have a bad shooting night. Had we had an ordinary shooting night, had we hit an average number of the open shots that we so badly missed, we might well have prevailed. As it was, once we fell behind we were never able to get back into the game. I should complain about the wildly lopsided officiating, but to do so after a loss might appear to be sour grapes. To blazes with that, my grapes are quite sour indeed. Michigan States gets away with traveling on one end of the court, Michigan's coach John Beilein is assessed a technical foul for pointing out the rancid officiating, & then Michigan is whistled for traveling at the other end of the court. I have to hand it to Michigan State's coach Tom Izzo, he does a superlative job of bribing/bullying the Zebras into aiding his club. My hope is that the valiant Wolverines got their stone cold shooting night out of their system before the N.C.A.A. tournament. I don't mind being beaten by a better club, but I cannot countenance beating ourselves. Today, against the dastardly Spartans, we beat ourselves.

Next: Wofford, in the N.C.A.A. tourney. The valiant Wolverines are a № 2 seed, & face the № 15 epithetless Terriers on Thursday.

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
David Bowie & Queen, "Under Pressure" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

The Victors | Project OSPREY

"If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same…"
—Rudyard Kipling, "If—"

Friday, 14 March 2014
B1G Tournament Quarterfinals
(№ 8) Michigan 64-63 Illinois
24-7, Big Ten 16-3

The valiant Wolverines' unexpectedly & uncomfortably close shave against the feisty Fighting Illini was an excellent reminder of a maxim I'd repeatedly over & over again, but insufficiently internalized: There are no easy wins in the Big Ten, above & beyond the ancient & true wisdom that any given club can beat any other given club on any given day. The conference was even more fratricidal than usual this season; all twelve Big Ten cubs finished the season with at least five conference wins; no club finished the schedule with fewer than three conference losses. I remarked to my father on Wednesday that it was unfortunate that come Friday's quarterfinals Michigan would face either Indiana or Illinois, our two most recent opponents. That familiarity, plus greater post-season vim & vigor by the feisty Fighting Illini—those wonderful, terrible intangibles that are so much a part of sport's majesty—made Friday's contest much closer than it needed to be. But the valiant Wolverines were able to prove once again that they do not lose their nerve in close games, something that can only serve them well going forward. The multiple, multi-minute scoring droughts were worrisome, but, one, we must remind ourselves that Illinois was possible the best defensive clubs in the conference in the late-season stretch & two, it's too late to do anything now but stick to our fundamental strengths, roll with the punches, & play our game.

Historically, Illinois has overachieved in the Big Ten tournament, while Michigan has underachieved. So, woot!

Chief Illiniwek forever!

Saturday, 15 March 2014
B1G Tournament Semifinals
(№ 8) Michigan 72-69 Ohio State (№ 24)
25-7, Big Ten 17-3

The valiant Wolverines' usual script was turned on its head against the hated Buckeyes: instead of falling behind early & clawing back into contention, it was Michigan who built up the first-half lead that was eventually whittled down &—egad!—converted into a deficit. The ending was the same, though, for while the valiant Wolverines are able to fight their way back & come away with the victory, they were able to thwart the hated Buckeyes' comeback attempt. Once again, the valiant Wolverines proved their mettle in a close game. I took an unseemly amount of satisfaction in Ohio State senior guard Aaron Craft's mishandling of the ball in the game's dying seconds, a fumble that doomed his club's slim chance at the upset. I had earlier remarked that if Michigan had to pick its poison, I was comfortable shutting down the rest of the hated Buckeyes & then daring Craft—who is a player with an extraordinary & laudable work ethic & a living exemplar of the virtues of hustling, but a mediocre shooter—to beat us with his offense. Craft is the kind of player we should all root for, except for the fact that he's a hated Buckeye: he'll never play pro ball, but for four years he played his heart out every night; he hustles more than any two other players on the court; & he makes his opponents better by making them pay for every miscue, for every sloppy or lazy play. Craft so many things that are right about collegiate sports, except that he owes his allegiance to THE Ohio State University & its sinister purposes.

Next: Michigan State, for all the marbles, in the Big Ten tournament final, getting under way as I type these very words.

Go Blue!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Rebel Black Dot Polka Medley of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Polka Face" from Alpocalypse (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Polka-link. Pray don't polka your eyes out upon reading this news, but "Polka Face" concludes the R.B.D.S.O.T.D.'s festival of polka medleys, at least until "Weird Al" releases his next album. We shall return to the normal, chaotic R.B.D.S.O.T.D. selection process, quite appropriately on so-called "Selection Sunday."

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Rebel Black Dot Polka Medley of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Polkarama!" from Straight Outta Lynnwood (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Polka-link.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Explorers' Club, № CCCLXXXIII

Born from Jets, Part III: The Saab J.A.S. 39 Gripen.

Commentary: I rue being unable to locate a schematic drawing of the Gripen more in keeping with those found for the Draken & the Viggen in "Born from Jets, Parts I & II."

I espied a Cadillac ELR this evening, unsurprisingly turning out of the General Motors facility nearest my abode. Ska Army & I were roped in by a Cadillac presenter at the 2013 North American International Auto Show &, then as now, the ELR is quite a looker. It might just be a new skin over the bones of the unlovely Chevrolet Volt, but what a new skin!

"It's the Cadillac of automobiles!"
Addendum: The Victors | Project OSPREY
Saturday, 8 March 2014
(№ 12) Michigan 84-80 Indiana
23-7, Big Ten 15-3

Wonder of wonders, the D.V.R. was revived from an apparently catastrophic failure, & last night I belatedly watched Saturday's game. The valiant Wolverines returned to their unfortunate pattern of falling behind early, a habit I'd hoped they'd left behind. The wily Hoosiers played a brilliant offensive game, shooting over sixty per cent from the field; I've only seen them in their two games against Michigan, so I'm at a loss to understand how they are a sub-.500 club in league play. Byeh? The capricious Zebras, the only team that plays in every single game, had a rough night, with actual fouls missed & phantom fouls called. I was not at all displeased with Coach Beilein's technical foul, because that sequence of non-calls was atrocious. I do not pretend that the Zebras have an easy job, but that is no excuse for such a lackluster piece of work.

B1G tournament play begins today, with eight clubs in action. The four winners will advance to face the four clubs with first-round byes in tomorrow's action. The four second-round winners then face off in the semifinals on Saturday, with that day's two winners meeting in the tournament final on Sunday. The field for the N.C.A.A. tournament—"March Madness"—will be announced later on Sunday, once all the conference tournaments have concluded. I am no tournament expert, no far-sighted prognosticator, but depending on how the tournament goes methinks the valiant Wolverines have a good chance of being a № 2 or № 3 seed, with an outside, outside chance of snagging one of the coveted № 1 seeds. Why not? The valiant Wolverines are the champions of the toughest, most fratricidal league in major-conference ball. But probably a № 2 or № 3 seed for the № 8-ranked Maize & Blue.

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Polka Medley of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Angry White Boy Polka" from Poodle Hat (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Polka-link. "Angry White Boy Polka" is the longest of the polka medleys, at over five minutes' length. I doubt this has anything specifically to do with the nu metal/rap-rock the "Angry White Boy Polka" parodies, as the generally trend is for slightly longer medleys. The last "Weird Al" polka under four minutes was "Bohemian Polka," released almost twenty years hence.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Rebel Black Dot Polka Medley of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Polka Power!" from Running with Scissors (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Polka-link.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Victors | Project OSPREY

"If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same…"
—Rudyard Kipling, "If—"

Saturday, 8 March 2014
(№ 12) Michigan 84-80 Indiana
23-7, Big Ten 15-3

I didn't see the final game of the regular season because I was at a religious retreat all day Saturday & Sunday, & before I could watch the game on Monday the house's D.V.R. gave up the ghost as a result of a three-second blackout. So, I cannot comment knowledgeably on the ebb & flow of the game. I can affirm that the streak continues: under the stewardship of head coach John Beilein, the valiant Wolverines have never lost a game in which they scored at least eighty points. Plus, who doesn't like to win on Senior Day?

Next: The winner of Illinois-Indiana (who meet on Thursday), in the second round of the Big Ten tournament on Friday, 14 March. The valiant Wolverines are the № 1 seed in the B1G tourney & are ranked № 8 in the season's final Associated Press poll. (Michigan was ranked № 7 in the preseason A.P.)

Go Blue!
The Rebel Black Dot Polka Medley of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "The Alternative Polka" from Bad Hair Day (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Polka-link.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Rebel Black Dot Polka Medley of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Bohemian Polka" from Alapalooza (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Polka-link. Unique amongst "Weird Al's" polka medleys, "Bohemian Polka" isn't a medley, but a polka cover of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." "Bohemian Polka" still captures the musical Zeitgeist, just like its medley brethren; "Bohemian Rhapsody" enjoyed its greatest pop cultural success not upon its original release but after its use in the motion picture Wayne's World. Polka on, Wayne. Polka on, Garth.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Sufjan Stevens, "Amazing Grace" from Songs for Christmas (T.L.A.M.)


"Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

"'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!

"Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
'Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

"When we've been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we'd first begun!"

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Robert Kochis, "The Summons" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)


"Will you come and follow Me, if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don't know, and never be the same?
Will you let My love be shown? Will you let My name be known?
Will you let My life be grown in you and you in Me?

"Will you leave yourself behind, if I but call you name?
Will you care for cruel and kind, and never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile stare? Should your life attract or scare?
Will you let Me answer prayer in you, and you in Me?

"Will you let the blinded see, if I but call your name?
Will you set the prisoners, and never be the same?
Will you kiss the leper clean, and do such as this unseen?
And to what I mean in you, and you in Me?

"Lord, your summons echoes true, when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow You, and never be the same.
In Your company I'll go, where Your love and footsteps show,
Thus I'll move and live and grow in You, You in me."

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Rebel Black Dot Polka Medley of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Polka Your Eyes Out" from Off the Deep End (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Polka-link.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Victors | Project OSPREY

"If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same…"
—Rudyard Kipling, "If—"

Tuesday, 4 March 2014
(№ 12) Michigan 84-53 Illinois
22-7, Big Ten 14-3

The valiant Wolverines of the University of Michigan are outright, undisputed Champions of the Big Ten! All congratulations to the '13-'14 squad of valiant Wolverines for earning Michigan's first solo title since 1986 & second at-least-partial conference title in three seasons. The Big Ten was first known as the Western Conference, & the valiant Wolverines are now truly Champions of the "West."

Hail! to the victors valiant!
Hail! to the conqu'ring heroes!
Hail! Hail! to Michigan
The leaders and best!

Hail! to the victors valiant!
Hail! to the conqu'ring heroes!
Hail! Hail! to Michigan
The Champions of the West!

After such a dominant victory, especially one that secured a prize as sought-after as the conference title, it is vitally important to remember the wisdom of "If—." This triumph is indeed an impostor. Skilled as efficient as Michigan's offense is, it will not reliably be as overwhelming as it appeared Tuesday night; rare indeed will be the half in which the valiant Wolverines score fifty-two points on almost seventy per cent field goal shooting. I am a better winner than I am a loser, by which I mean I am better able to retain a sense of perspective after a win than after a loss. Regardless of all other variables, I was well-pleased to see the valiant Wolverines not fall behind early, as had become their habit of late.

Next: Indiana, at home on Saturday in the regular-season finale. February's 63-52 defeat at the hands of the wily Hoosiers was one of our most irksome losses of this campaign, & my hope is that the valiant Wolverines will be looking for both revenge & to (further) stamp their authority on the conference title with a win. (Or maybe that's just me.)

Go Blue!

Also, I'm a fan of Illinois head coach John Groce, but I'm really a fan of the bright orange sport coat he was wearing on Tuesday. One of the many proofs of the evil of the Entertainment & Sports Programming Network is that even in its "E.S.P.N. on A.B.C." guise, its correspondents do not wear corporate logo blazers, much less the glorious yellow sport coats that were the trademark of A.B.C.'s Wide World of Sports. We here at The Secret Base applaud Coach Groce's stand against the uniform tyranny of blue, black, & gray coats. (Of course, I write that last sentence as a chap whose formal wardrobe consists of a blue suit, a gray suit, a charcoal suit, a tuxedo [black], a gray sport coat, & a brown sport coat, which though not enumerated as part of the "uniform tyranny" is common enough.)

Chief Illiniwek forever!
The Rebel Black Dot Polka Medley of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "The Hot Rocks Polka" from U.H.F.: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Polka-link.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Urbi et Orbi | Operation AXIOM

Today begins the penitential season of Lent, a season of fasting & abstinence culminating in the Easter Triduum, the holiest of holy observances, the death & resurrection of Christ Jesus. What God the Father would not permit Abraham to do on Mount Moriah, He was willing to do for each & every one of us. The Christ took the sin of all the world upon his sinless breast, & died the death our wickedness had earned us. But first we commemorate the forty days in the desert the Christ endured before setting out upon His ministry. We sacrifice not for sacrifice's sake, not as a hypocritical display of our own piety, but to unclutter our lives, our minds, so that we might spend more time with Him, might more clearly hear His voice. Today begins the penitential season of Lent, thanks be to God.

The Gospel According to Matthew, 7:13-14 (N.A.B.)
Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.
I forgo my customary hat on Ash Wednesday, in a bid to preserve the ashes on my forehead. (Forgive me this vanity.) This makes Ash Wednesday one of the strangest days of the year, a fun reminder of how swiftly things change, because it was not so long ago that I almost never wore a hat, & that didn't seem even the slightest bit odd. Of course, this will be a bitter cold day go go about without a hat, but such is the price to be paid for the Best Winter Ever.

I'm dreaming of a white Easter…

The Rebel Black Dot Polka Medley of Ash Wednesday
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Polka Party!" from Polka Party! (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Polka-link.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Rebel Black Dot Polka Medley of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Hooked on Polkas" from Dare to Be Stupid (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Polka-link.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Explorers' Club, № CCCLXXXII

Born from Jets, Part II: The Saab 37 Viggen ("bolt").

Operation AXIOM
Blogger informs me that this is the forty-eight hundredth post in the history of The Secret Base of the Rebel Black Dot Society. Holy smoke! 4,800 posts! I shall have to pay closer attention & make a bigger deal out of our five thousandth post later this year. Wow!

The Rebel Black Dot Polka Medley of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Polkas on 45" from "Weird Al" Yankovic in 3-D (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Polka-link.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Code Name: CHAOS

RE: The Secret Base's new hockey feature, I very much like the code name Operation AMPHION, but hesitate due to its similarity to our anniversary & holiday feature, Operation AXIOM. AMPHION, AXIOM. I then considered a number of avian names paired with "project," liking the parallels to Project OSPREY, the hockey feature's acknowledged inspiration. I dismissed code names that sounded like 1980s action movies, like Project EAGLE or Project CONDOR, & alliterative code names, like Project PUFFIN or Project PARAKEET. (Project PENGUIN was never a prospect, despite its icy appropriateness, because of my disdain for Sidney Crosby, & through him the Pittsburgh Penguins.) I thought about the osprey's aquatic diet & thus seabirds, & came upon a name laden with aural & visual quality & the delightful complexity of multiple layers of allusion & meaning. Hockey will henceforth be discussed at The Secret Base under the tile of "Project ALBATROSS."

The valiant Wolverines of the University of Michigan's men's ice hockey team will be blogged about under the joint auspices of Project ALBATROSS & "The Victors." College basketball is billed as "The Victors | Project OSPREY" & so college hockey will be billed as "The Victors | Project ALBATROSS." College football is billed simply as "The Victors" because, frankly, Michigan is a football school. We here at The Secret Base support all valiant Wolverines competing in all sports, but first & last Michigan is a football school. How so? The men's & women's basketball teams play in the Crisler Center (formerly the Crisler Arena), named after "Fritz" Crisler, a national championship-winning football coach & athletic director. The men's & women's ice hockey teams play in Yost Ice Arena (formerly Yost Fieldhouse), named after & build by Fielding Yost, the multiple national championship-winning football coach & athletic director. Yes, the basketball & hockey teams play their home games in facilities named after football coaches. Michigan is a football school, so in football "The Victors" needs no other adornment.

My sense is that the Detroit Red Wings, to the limited extent that they are discussed, will be billed under "Project ALBATROSS" alone, instead of "Project ALBATROSS | Believe" or "Project ALBATROSS | The Winged Wheel." This is because I cannot in good conscience cheer for the Red Wings as long as the monster Bertuzzi disgraces their august uniform with his vile presence. He is very much an albatross hanging around Hockeytown's neck, thank you Samuel Taylor Coleridge. I eagerly await returning to the fold as soon as he is off the Red Wings' roster, but even then the schism he caused will not soon be forgotten. It's not that I wish the Red Wings any ill will. I cheer them as I cheer all of Detroit's professional athletic clubs, because their success is good for the City of Detroit & good for the State of Michigan. But I've tried to watch the Red Wings, & I just can't. My blood runs cold as soon as the monster Bertuzzi takes the ice. That fiend should have been banned from the N.H.L. for life after he broke another player's neck in deliberate retaliation for an earlier incident; it sickens me that he not only continues to play in the N.H.L. but plays for my beloved Red Wings. ALBATROSS alone will suffice then for the Wings.

Coming soon, or at least sooner rather than later.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Brian Carpenter's Ghost Train Orchestra, "Mojo Strut" from Hothouse Stomp: The Music of 1920s Chicago and Harlem (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Victors | Project OSPREY

"If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same…"
—Rudyard Kipling, "If—"

(№ 16) Michigan 66-56 Minnesota
21-7, Big Ten 13-3

The truly gratifying factor in tonight's victory was the valiant Wolverines' hustle. Every time the luckless Golden Gophers closed the gap—repeatedly drawing within two points, often because of a Michigan turnover due to a lazy or too-casual pass—a valiant Wolverine, often sophomore guard "Spike" Albrecht, would make a fantastic play, out-hustling everyone else on the court. The salutary effect of hustle in sport, most especially in basketball, can scarcely be overestimated. Hustle makes up for deficiencies in talent & scheme. Hustle nullifies an opponent's psychological advantage, & what's more can even psych out that same opponent. Hustle makes everyone on the club better. Hustle is the nearest thing there is to a panacea. The valiant Wolverines had the talent & the scheme to prevail, but the luckless Golden Gophers were dogged in their pursuit. Tonight, hustle carried the day. How appropriate that hustle was the watchword on the day the valiant Wolverines secured at least a share of the Big Ten championship. With a single win in either of the last two games, Michigan will win the conference title outright for the first time since 1986, before any of the current players was born. Very well done, men. You have my thanks, & the thanks of a grateful Wolverine Nation.

Next: Illinois, on the road. This will be the valiant Wolverines' first & only regular-season meeting with the feisty Fighting Illini. Go Blue!

Chief Illiniwek forever!

The Victors (ice hockey) | The Winged Wheel
I've recently discussed hockey, especially the virtues of attending games at Michigan's Yost Ice Arena, with Project PANDORA prospects Mike Lima & November. Yesterday, a few moments spent watching the N.H.L. Network informed me that the Eastern Conference (formerly known by the vastly superior name of the Prince of Wales Conference) has two divisions, the Atlantic Division & the Metropolitan Division. These are not ideal names, but they are better than the Big Ten Conferences erstwhile "Leaders" & "Legends" divisions. I was aware that the Detroit Red Wings had recently switched the Western Conference (formerly the Clarence Campbell Conference) to the Eastern, & I generally supported the move, both because it would allow the Red Wings to play a lot more games in the Eastern Time Zone & because it increased the frequency with which the Wings would face fellow "Original Six" clubs the Montreal Canadiens, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Boston Bruins, & the New York Rangers, with the unfortunate consequence of fewer games against the last "Original Six" club, the Chicago Blackhawks. But I had no idea that the N.H.L. had been reorganized into four divisions under the two conferences: Atlantic & Metropolitan in the East, Central & Pacific in the West. Also, I was reminded yesterday of the Big Ten Networks "Frozen Fridays," as the Big Ten is now a six-club men's ice hockey conference.

The takeaway? The time has come for an ice hockey version of the highly successful Project OSPREY, which reignited my love of collegiate basketball in early 2008. This will be tough sledding, since the monster Bertuzzi still sullies the good name of the Red Wings with his vile personage (this is why the once thriving "Believe" has become the neglected "The Winged Wheel"), but I believe that like Project OSPREY this new, or rather renewed interest will pay handsome dividends. A code name has yet to be assigned, in part because OSPREY set the bar so darned high. As ever, treasured readers, I will keep you abreast of developments.
The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Nirvana, "Come As You Are" from Nevermind (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The R.B.D.S.O.T.D. was meant to be "Little Brown Jug" as performed by the University of Michigan Marching Band, on the occasion of Michigan hosting Minnesota in men's basketball. (The valiant Wolverines & the luckless Golden Gophers vie for the Little Brown Jug, the oldest rivalry trophy in collegiate sport, in football.) That was a cerebral R.D.B.S.O.T.D. selection, made yesterday. This morning, as I repeatedly depressed the "snooze" button on my alarm clock, drifting in that pleasant, fuzzy state 'twixt slumber & wakefulness, "Come As You Are" started running through my head/the last vestiges of my dreams. That is a visceral R.B.D.S.O.T.D. selection, the choice not of my intellect (or, in your author's case, the secondhand difference engine that suffices in the stead of an actual intellect) but of the ever-mysterious muse. I love visceral choices, love their spontaneity & their snapshot of my Zeitgeist, but I also love cerebral choices, their deliberateness & their reflection of careful scheming. Plus, the muse doesn't always sing, or I can't always hear her. Visceral R.B.D.S.O.T.D. are great, but they are sporadic.

"Come as you are, as you were,
As I want you to be…"