Wednesday, April 30, 2014


According to this morning's weigh-in, I have lost five point four pounds (5.4 lbs.) in the last fortnight & now weigh point four pounds (0.4 lbs.) more than I did on 19 February, the lowest recorded weight since systematic record-keeping began. This is a welcome result of the previous fortnight's renewed but still far from perfect discipline. I cannot rest of my laurels. I must continue to consume fewer calories, to burn more calories, & to rededicate myself to pursuing ÖSTERREICH's ultimate goal.


The Last Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day of SKApril 2014
Prince Buster, "Madness" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Skammentary: The song after which the 2-Tone band Madness named themselves.

"Madness, madness, they call it madness,
Madness, madness, they call it madness,
It's plain to see that is what they mean to me,
Madness, madness, I call it gladness.

"Madness, madness, they call it madness,
But if this is madness than I know I'm filled with gladness.
It's gonna be rougher (rough),
It's gonna be tougher (tough),
And I won't be the one, no, no, no, who's going to suffer.

"Propaganda ministers,
Propaganda ministers,
I've got a' aim in view,
Man, I'm gonna walk all over you!

"Madness, madness, they call it madness,
But if this is madness, man, I know I'm filled with gladness.
It's gonna be rougher (rough),
It's gonna be tougher (tough),
And I won't be the one, no, no, no, who's going to suffer.
People, you'll see the one who's going to suffer,
And I'll never, never, never be that one who's going to suffer."

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Loose Ties, "Your Last Chance" from Champ of the Week (T.L.A.M.)

Skammentary: The Loose Ties were commissioned by the University of Michigan-Flint to arrange & perform a ska cover of Michigan's fight song, "The Victors." I wished to include that excellent rendition of Louis Elbel's masterpiece in '14's SKApril & requested that Ska Army scour his files for any live recording of "The Victors." He readily agree to conduct such a search & that was the last I heard from him. I've waited as long as I'm willing; yes, I could have delayed for one more day, given him a little more time for eleventh-hour heroics, but for some weeks now I've known with which song I wished to bring SKApril to a close, & I am unwilling to alter those plans on the forlorn hope that a rabbit will be pulled out of a hat.

"Your Last Chance" is one of my favorites of The Loose Ties' original songs. It has a beat that acts like the Pied Piper, driving ska kids before it, skanking to their black-&-white checkerboard doom.

"You already had your fling, now could you just leave me alone?
I guess I should have realized your heart was made of stone,
And I can tell you honestly you've had your last chance with me,
I just hope you see…"

Monday, April 28, 2014


Catch 22, "Guilty Pleasures" from Alone in a Crowd (T.L.A.M.)

Skammentary: According to Ska Army, when lead singer "Whathisname" left Catch 22, all the talent left Catch 22 & eventually founded Streetlight Manifesto. I'm not saying that Catch 22's post-Whathisname album, Alone in a Crowd, is better than their album with Whatshisname, Keasbey Nights, but I will say that the former is equal or superior to anyting released by Streetlight Manifesto. (I also disdain Whatshisname for re-recording Keasbey Nights with Streetlight Manifesto. What a tool!)

"Coulda been, shoulda been, woulda been different
'Cause I know now what I never knew then,
Coulda been, shoulda been, woulda been different,
Coulda been…"

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Explorers' Club, № CCCXC

The flying life of Moye W. Stephens (1907-1995), co-founder of the Northrop Corporation & pilot of the Flying Carpet expedition (1930-1932).


The Rebel Black Dot Song of Divine Mercy Sunday
Dance Hall Crashers, "He Wants Me Back" from The Old Record: 1989-1992 (T.L.A.M.)

Skammentary: The Dance Hall Crashers weren't always a ska band, but even in their later years they flirted between ska-core, pop-punk, & the swing & burlesque revivals. Back in the day, though, they were less ambiguously ska & songs such as "He Wants Me Back" feature not just syncopation but also horns, & of course D.H.C.'s trademark sound, dual distaff harmonized lead vocals.

"Yesterday the leaves were brown
And I was wearing a big frown,
Because my lover left me for the girl
That he had loved before.
The sky was cloudy, then turned blue
Because I saw it was no use
To love someone whose heart was elsewhere
So I decided not to care, oh yeah!

"He wants me back, but he can't have me.
He wants me back, there's no denyin'.
He wants me back, he's on his knees,
Now we'll see who's cryin'.

"The grass looks greener without you, it's true!
So many things for me to do,
Living my life for me and on my own,
It is so great to be alone…"

"He Wants me Back" is a great song to which to teach skanking—slow, steady, & catchy.

Bonus! Song of the Day
Dan Potthast, "Pope" from Sweets and Meats (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Dan Potthast—nicknamed "Dan Posthaste" & "Steve Roelle (pronounced "Raleigh"), the missing Roelle brother" within B.T.W.—is the lead singer & guitarist for Mu330, the "psycho ska" band from Saint Louis, the mighty city by the mighty Mississippi. He has also released solo, non-ska albums. Though "Pope" is not a ska song, it is about a visit by Pope Saint John Paul II to Saint Louis & had to be highlighted today, because how often is it that I will find myself in possession of a contemporary, non-religious song about a modern man on the day of that late man's canonization?

"It was like a parade at forty miles an hour,
And the pope zipped past in his see-through car,
And we laughed and we waved and I think he smiled.
It all happened so fast! All the people were chanting,
'John Paul Two, we love you!'…"

Saturday, April 26, 2014


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

Skammentary: It is my honor to be a groomsman in a C.R.H.P. brother's wedding this afternoon, to the sister of one of my closest childhood friends. After this lone springtime wedding, I have a raft of nuptials to attend in the late summer, so I'd be none too surprised if "Pete Jackson Is Getting Married" was the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. a few more times in the Year of Our Lord 2014.

"I can see it all right now:
His mom and dad, so proud of their son and his newfound wife,
And I wonder if after all these years,
Will his dad still give him a pep talk for his wedding night?

"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.

"And his uncles have all gone drinking
Highballs and Hamm's Light in the parking lot,
While the rest of this relatives
Are busy just tearing this Mansville Elks lodge.

"I can smell his cousin's Polo
Mixed with his grandpa's Old Spice,
The mashed potatoes look so tasty
That his two fat aunts might even fight.

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


For yesterday's wedding rehearsal, I waxed my moustache for the first time in a dog's age. I am often asked if I wax, & it is my privilege & my joy to inform my questioners that I am blest with a moustache that curses upward by natural inclination, with but the smallest persuasion by comb & fingers. I can count on one hand the occasions on which I've waxed my moustache, so clearly more experience is needed to determine the right amount of wax & the proper technique for application. That said, I am in deed blest to sport a moustache of such naturally-occurring magnificence, so what need have I for wax? Yes, there is a certain wildness to my whiskers, a certain bushiness that waxing might relieve, but is that what I really want? I am not now nor have I ever been a dandy, so how much work do I want it to look like I've put into my moustache? How much work I put into it & how much work it looks like I've put into it are two discrete considerations. Effortless elegance is the ticket, methinks.

Friday, April 25, 2014


The Rebel Black Dot Song of A.N.Z.A.C. Day
The Chinkees, "Norehapshida" from The Chinkees… Are Coming! (T.L.A.M.)

Skammentary: Another of Mike Park's personal bands, The Chinkees don't always play ska, but when they do they remind us that horns are not a requirement of the genre, not as fundamental as the beat & the attitude. Also, I have no idea what the word "Norehapshida" means, nor to what language it belongs. (Were I to hazard a guess, I'd guess Japanese.)

"It's not the past, it's the present,
And I'm working hard on my life;
Proud of the the things that I've done,
I keep striving…"

Thursday, April 24, 2014


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Toasters, "Don't Let the Bastards Grind You Down" (live) from Live in São Paulo (T.L.A.M.)

Skammentary: "Don't Let the Bastards Grind You Down" has a simple, unambiguous, & important message, one by which to live.

"Don't let the bastards grind you down,
Don't let them grind you down…"

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Mu330, "Ireland" (live) from Oh Yeah! (T.L.A.M.)

Skammentary: Chosen in honor of my proudly Irish-American mother's first visit to Eire. Bon voyage, my darling!

I picked this live rendition of "Ireland" over the
Crab Rangoon studio version because I like better the live recording's sound levels, specifically the loudness & clarity of both the vocals & the horns.

"My heart was strong, but I was wrong
To think that I could save her.
Her head was mixed in politics,
And I fell out of favor.
There was no trial, no mercy mild,
And now I am forever exiled.

"Ireland's at war with herself,
Ireland's at war with herself…

"I pledged my loyalty, I was a patriot,
I was her everything that she'd soon forget…"

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Explorers' Club, № CCCLXXXIX

The adventurous life of Richard Halliburton (1900-1939), including the around-the-world Flying Carpet expedition (1930-1932).

Commentary: This episode's subject was suggested to your author by the California Dreamer. She has our thanks & gratitude.

All the Russias | The Stars My Destination

As part of the United States's staggeringly effective response to the Russian Federation's invasion & dismemberment of Ukraine, co-operation between the American 7 Russian national space agencies, N.A.S.A. & Roscosmos, respectively, has been severely curtailed: space-link. Recall that since the premature retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet & the cancellation of the Constellation program (to design & manufacture the next generation of American spacecraft) by President Obama, the United States has had no independent manned spaceflight capability & has been paying Roscosmos to launch astronauts to the International Space Station & return them safely to Earth, alongside Roscosmos's own cosmonauts. The administration's public financing of "private" commercial spaceflight has resulted in new rockets & new cargo-rated spacecraft, but not yet any spacecraft rated for manned flight. Thus, Roscosmos remains the only way to get N.A.S.A. & allied astronauts into orbit & back to the good Earth.

An interesting feature of this article is N.A.S.A. Administrator Charles Bolden's evinced divorce from reality. Under Bolden's watch, the Space Shuttle fleet was retired & the Constellation program was cancelled, resulting in massive workforce reductions at both N.A.S.A. & its contractors, including the loss of invaluable practical experience in the design, production, preparation, & maintenance of manned spacecraft. For Bolden to now try & pass the blame for N.A.S.A.'s lack of a manned spaceflight capacity on the Congress is nothing short of a very bold lie. The United States could have a manned spaceflight capability by 2015 instead of 2017 if only N.A.S.A. had been funded at the requested levels, Mr. Administrator? What about the two years between the cancellation of the Orion spacecraft & the Shuttle-derived Ares family or rockets (Constellation) & the announcement of the development of the Orion spacecraft & the Shuttle-derived Space Launch System family of rockets? Why, sir, is that not also to blame, the two years spend losing irreplaceable expertise & personnel to a review process that, ultimately, approved virtually the same program it has cancelled? Charles Bolden may have served this country well as a Marine & an astronauts, but he has done & continues to do it incredible disservice as the administrator of N.A.S.A.

Liberty & Union: Obamboozled
The parade of horrors continues, & the horror has in any ways exceeded my worst fears. I never imagined that the United States would stand by impotently, playing the part of France & Britain to Russia's Germany in a macabre reenactment of the 1930s*. I never imagined that for so many years N.A.S.A. would be without the capability for manned spaceflight (a capacity it had held since 1961, until Mr. Obama moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue), & thus beholden to Roscosmos. I never imagined that the N.A.S.A. chief would be more loyal to Elon Musk than to the United States Congress. Damn my eyes for failing to see the true depth & breadth of the horror before it was too late.

All the Russias | The Savage Wars of Peace
*Hyperbolic, you say? Consider: A weak, post-Soviet Russia signed a treaty to honor Ukraine's sovereignty & territorial integrity; a weak, post-Imperial Germany signed a treaty to honor Czechoslovakia's sovereignty & territorial integrity. Years later, a resurgent Russia then used force & the threat of force to reclaim the Crimea, a region of Ukraine with an ethnically Russian population; years later, a resurgent Germany used force & the threat of force to reclaim the Sudetenland, a region of Czechoslovakia with an ethnically German population. Russia claimed that the Crimea was the extent or its territorial demands, but almost immediately began agitating ethnic tensions in eastern Ukraine & massing troops along the Ukrainian frontier; Germany claimed that the Sudetenland was the extent of its territorial demands, but almost immediately began agitating nationalist tensions in Austria & massing troops along the Austrian frontier. It is yet unknown what if any additional territorial concessions Russia will acquire through the use of force & the threat of force; Germany used force & the threat of force to annex Austria & later the non-ethically German remainder of Czechoslovakia, finally culminating in the invasion of Poland & the start of the Second World War. If these parallels are not as clear as I have pointed them out to be, please apprise me of where I have erred.

The United States & the Russian Federation will not go to war over the Ukraine, not even if Russia's Putin ordered his troops to seize all of Ukraine, including Kiev & the Ukrainian-majority regions, just as France & Britain refused to go to war with Nazi Germany over the invasion of German-speaking Austria & non-German Czechoslovakia. But what about the Baltic trio of Latvia, Lithuania, & Estonia, N.A.T.O. members that the United States is treaty-bound to defend? Weakness, even if only perceived & not real, emboldens the rapacious. Fairly or not, the rapacious perceive the United States under President Obama as weak, & are thus emboldened.


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Unsteady, "Universe (Why Can't You See You're Not the Center of The)" from Double or Nothing (T.L.A.M.)

Skammentary: Back in the glory days of Real Can of Yams, the lead singer complained that my song lyrics—I cannot write music, so instead I contributed lyrics—were too busy, contained too many words. Clearly, I should have been writing lyrics for Unsteady instead.

"Why can't you see you're not the center of the universe?
You never listen up. You always put your ego first.
You think that all advice is not a help but more a curse,
But by ignoring them you only make your problems worse.

"You won't say that you love me 'cause I know that you don't mean it.
You won't say you need me 'cause I know that you don't care.
You won't pledge commitment, but you talk your way around it.
You can't act out emotions that were never really there.

"Constructive criticism doesn't mean a thing to you.
You could improve yourself but that's not what you want to do.
If I seem anger that's because I'm so fed up with you.
You turn a blind eye to advice that you can see is true…

"No understanding of the concept of integrity.
If you're a failure, it was only what you chose to be.
You feel intimidated, so you have to yell at me;
It's just a symptom of your infantile mentality…"

As verbose as the first half of "Universe" is, the back half of the track is instrumental, veering into jazz/improv territory before returning to the song's ska opening near the finale. Ska is a more diverse genre than it is given credit for being.

Monday, April 21, 2014


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The A-OKs, "Words Are Not for Eating" via iTunes (Rob the Slob)

Skammentary: The A-OKs are a latter-day Denver-based ska band recommended to me by my debate buddy & FaceSpace "friend" Rob the Slob, a professor at Denver's Regis College. I am always thrilled to add a new band to the SKApril roster, now standing at fifty-six discrete bands & counting. "Words Are Not for Eating" is an amusing musing on the manifold difficulties in communicating, that after a forty-five-second instrumental introduction begins with this odd preamble:

"Courage! and rock & roll…

"I thought we'd be friends, but no!
Your pride, justified, you should've let it go,
So much for the strong union,
Might as well be deaf and dumb for the lack of communication.

"Why would I be upset? The tension's over,
I have no regrets, but I'm hardly sober,
I don't have you to blame 'cause I don't have you,
That bridge burned past the point of ever coming back…"

Urbi et Orbi
As I had to remind my father this morning, when I greeted him with a cheery "Happy Easter!" & he replied with a confused 'Happy day after Easter?," Easter is a season—the Eastertide—not a day. Much like the Christmastide does not end but merely begins on Christmas Day, the Eastertide does not end but merely begins on Easter Sunday; the Eastertide does not end 'til the Pentecost, in seven weeks' time. So, happy Easter, dear readers! He lives! He lives!

Sunday, April 20, 2014


The Rebel Black Dot Song of Easter Sunday
Five Iron Frenzy, "Farsighted" from Five Iron Frenzy 2: Electric Boogaloo (T.L.A.M.)

Skammentary: Set aside your studied, world-weary pose & give yourself over to the pure joy of Easter. He is risen!

"To all the farsighted
The sky's never been so clear,
'Hello' to the hopeful,
'Good-bye' to the full-of-fear,
The heavens have painted,
Have brushed you with angel wings,
And you know in your heart
That the farsighted see better things…"

Saturday, April 19, 2014


The Rebel Black Dot Song of Holy Saturday
The Bruce Lee Band, "Last Words This Morning" from the Beautiful World E.P. (T.L.A.M.)

Skammentary: I was sorely tempted by The Bruce Lee Band's cover of "She's An Angel" by They Might Be Giants, but as great as it is it isn't a ska song, as so many songs aren't on The Bruce Lee Band's self-title album. The Beautiful World E.P., though, that is six tracks of pure ska brilliance, more akin to 1980s 2-Tone than to the ska-punk period in which the E.P. was released. The Bruce Lee Band is one of the many bands of Asian Man Records founder Mike Park's; SKApril would be much the poorer without Mr. Park, as both a musician in his own right & as a label-owner.

Friday, April 18, 2014


In the last fortnight, I've lost one point eight pounds (1.8 lbs.), but in the six weeks preceding that period I'd missed three weigh-ins & gained seven point six pounds (7.6 lbs.). One step forward, four steps back. As of Wednesday, I am five point eight pounds (5.8 lbs.) heavier than I was on 19 February, the lowest weight since this quantification regime commenced in November. I am furious with myself, for succumbing to the idiotic notion that I could resume the same old habits of snacking & pop-drinking without suffering the same old results of runaway weight gain. You fool!

This fiasco has an "Urbi et Orbi" corollary: my Lenten fasting, a key pillar of the preparations for Easter's manifold glories, has been nonexistent. Your whole life belongs to the Lord, Mike, not just your prayers & your participation in the parish. Every meal, every snack, every moment. This world is not my home & this life is not my own. I am simply a steward of my time here, not its owner. How am I treating what doesn't belong to me?


The Rebel Black Dot Song of Good Friday
Johnny Socko, "Next Big Thing" from Full Trucker Effect (T.L.A.M.)

Skammentary: "Next Big Thing" is very thematically similar to the Reel Big Fish's big hit, "Sell Out."

"You want to eat your cake
And have a slice of that guy's too,
Just jump aboard that next big thing
And let the gravy pour all over you.
The timing has to be just right,
You have to know just when to act,
And meet me at the bottom line
Of a lucrative contract.

"Pick up your axe and put it on wax,
We'll rock tonight if the demographic's right.

"Jump on the next big thing,
By June she'll be full swing,
Start now and you'll have time to savor
Being that month's flavor.
Jump on the next big thing
You'll be another Sting,
They'll love you, buy you, idolize you,
Until it's time to despise you…"

The connection to Good Friday is tenuous & a little contrived, but it can be made. On the day, when confronted with a defining choice, will you stay true to what you've professed no matter the cost or will you turn your back on your principles in exchange for worldly rewards.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


The Rebel Black Dot Song of Holy Thursday
Rude City Riot, "Shots and Pills" from the Rude City Riot E.P. (T.L.A.M.)


"Save me, Sugar, for I am ill,
And the touch that I crave so much
Comes from your fingertips.
Doctors orders, shot and pills,
Still I'm sure that the only cure
Is a kiss from your lips…"

He's Dead, Jim | Urbi et Orbi
Yesterday morning, in a nail gun mishap, a nail was propelled into my gloved hand, mercifully glancing off instead of burrowing in. I was helping to build a ramp for the home of a fellow Knight who is confined to a wheelchair; as I prepared to leave the house & head to the work site, I murmured to myself that old saw, "No good deed goes unpunished," something I've said less & less as I've become more engaged in the life of the parish, in the lives of my fellow Knights & parishioners. I claim no gift of foresight, it was merely coincidence*, & as these things go my good deed was not very severely punished: the nail didn't appear to penetrate my glove, though a divot was taken out of my thumb by the impact. I quipped to the fellow operating the nail gun, who was very remorseful, "Hey, there is no better week of the whole year for a Christian to have a nail put through his hand."

Bonus Skammentary: A SKApril Song of the Day about the healing power of love on a day when I'm afflicted by both a boo-boo & no one—neither girlflesh nor wife—to kiss it better. Yes, sometimes we here at The Secret Base almost know what we're doing.

*"Oh, I believe in coincidence. Coincidences happen every day. But I don't trust coincidence."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Victors | Project OSPREY

Drat! Sophomore guard Nik Stauskas & sophomore forward Glenn Robinson III have decided to forgo half of their four-year college eligibility & declare for the National Basketball Association (N.B.A.) draft. It is hard to argue against Staukas's prospects, but one has the tangible sense that Robinson would have been well served by another year (or two, one can dream) of development as a valiant Wolverine under Coach Beilein. On the one hand, there is a sense of betrayal, as their is with every college athlete who turns his back on his alma mater in order to pursue filthy lucre; on the other hand, there is a weary resignation that this is simply the way of things. In a very real sense, we are victims of our own success, as Coach Beilein has built the valiant Wolverines into a national power, a program that attracts top talent, exactly the kind of players who are induced to leave school early to play in the N.B.A. I've mellowed/matured enough* that I wish neither of the departing sophomores any ill will. Yet neither can I wish Messers. Robinson & Stauskas all the best. It is what it is, & what will be will be.

A worse betrayal is redshirt senior forward Jon Horford, who is taking advantage of an N.C.A.A. rule that allows graduating players with a remaining year of eligibility to transfer schools & have than mandatory year of riding the bench waived, & transferring to another, as yet unnamed school. He's not turning his back on Michigan to turn pro., no, no, he's turning his back on Michigan to play for another school, potentially a rival or tournament opponent. That snake in the grass I have not the least compunction about condemning. May misfortune & disappointment stalk Jon Horford the rest of his days! (At least the rest of his days as an athlete; I hope he has a long & fulfilling life away from the court.)

It seems as if sophomore forward-cum-center Mitch McGary will be back. If he recovers from last season's back injury, Horford's inconsistent minutes might not be much missed. As mentioned above, in recent years the valiant Wolverines have become a respected national program, which means we don't rebuild, we reload.

Go Blue!

*"I didn't sell out, Son, I bought in."


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Mustard Plug, "Miss Michigan" from Evildoers Beware! (T.L.A.M.)

Skammentary: The following is only tangentially related to "Miss Michigan": It is particularly irksome, after I have made a wacky observation, for one married bloke to turn to another married bloke (or as was the case in the most recent case, a divorced bloke remarked to an engaged bloke) & say, "You can tell he's never been married." The last time this happened it took all of the grace granted me by the Holy Ghost not to say, "Maybe it was your inability to communicate openly, to express yourself freely as I do, that caused your wife to divorce you the very moment your youngest child was out the door to college." That would have been exceedingly cruel, & I am glad those words only flashed through my mind & never came close to passing from my lips. But in the face of such smugness, especially since that exact thing has been said more than once, I was sorely tempted.

"So I meet a girl I know is right,
She's got is all, she's just my type,
So I take it slow, show her I'm real,
And I treat her right, show her how I feel,
Next thing you know I'm so in love
And it's only her that I'm thinking of,
But I'm such a fool, I can see today
Should have known from the start that the girl was gay.

"I've done it before and I'll do it again!
I've seen the path and I've seen the end!
I've said it before and I'll say it again:
I think I'm better off just dating Miss Michigan!"

Mustard Plug, like The Ninjas, The Insyderz, & The Loose Ties,
et al., are part of sacred Michigan's indigenous ska scene.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Explorers' Club, № CCCLXXXVIII

Crucifixion as a method of torture-cum-execution.


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Ninjas, "Snow Day" from Platypus (T.L.A.M.)

Skammentary: The Best Winter ever just won't quit! The isn't enough snow to close any of the schools, but there is a blanket of white coating my little corner of sacred Michigan. Ska & SKApril are ready for any & all eventualities.

"Well, it snowed at least an inch outside last night,
Why do I have to go to school again?
It snowed at least an inch outside last night,
Why do I have to go to school again?…"

Monday, April 14, 2014


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Goldfinger, "This Lonely Place" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)


"You find out he's been lying to you,
You find he had another girl,
But you never stand up for yourself,
You never stand up to him.
He takes it away,
Again you let yourself stay,
Again you give it to him,
You said, 'It's the last time he does it' again…

"Now you got a choice
To leave your place,
Your lonely place behind,
Be true to yourself now
And let it go,
It's better than you think…"

Urbi et Orbi
Yesterday was my first Mass as a member of the choir, & I have to say I didn't like it. It's not that I disliked singing in the choir (though I still think the choir director, God bless him, is mental for insisting that I join up), but I disliked how it disrupted my experience of the Mass. My mind was not on Him, but on the next song & my preparations to sing it to the best of my truly meager ability. The choir performs only at the eleven o'clock Mass, & I now understand why some of my fellows also attend the nine o'clock on choir days; the first Mass is their time to worship, the second is their time to perform. Methinks I shall do the same going forward, at least until the choir director realizes his mistake & politely asks that I step aside.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


The Rebel Black Dot Song of Palm Sunday
The Insyderz, "Testimony" from Soundtrack to a Revolution (T.L.A.M.)

Skammentary: There is no other type of music as boisterous as ska. There is no other topic as worthy of noisy exuberance as the Almighty.

"Because You are God, the great I Am,
You help me be a better man,
You light my fire, You're here with me,
You pick me up when I am weak.

"By the work of Your hands
In everything I see,
The great I Am, the King of Kings!
O Lord, my God, please hear me now,
Singing every word coming from my mouth,
I lift your name, I crave your grace,
I stand in awe, accept my praise…"

Saturday, April 12, 2014


So far, not so good. Of course, Brother Envy asked for unvarnished honesty; he gave me the sixer of home brews not simply as an act of friendship, but also trusting that I would not pull my punches.


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "I Want My City Back" from A Jackknife to a Swan (T.L.A.M.)

Skammentary: The Mighty Mighty Bosstones are part & parcel of SKApril; SKApril without them is unimaginable. The Bosstones furnished the very first song of the very first SKApril, "The Impression That I Get," way back (not so way back, really) in 2011. The only question, then, was which mighty mighty song would be chosen? The choice of "I Want My City Back" was prompted by the following paragraph, excerpted from the latest issue of National Review, written by Reihan Salam:
Like Spike Lee, I grew up in Brooklyn. I've been here too! And like Lee, I miss certain things about the Brooklyn of my childhood. Brooklyn wasn't cool or artisanal when I was a kid. It was rather dangerous, in fact. But I loved it because it was mine, and I share Lee's sense that some of Brooklyn's new arrivals don't seem to appreciate the qualities that made our hometown great.
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones sing not of Brooklyn, but of their beloved namesake, Boston, yet the parallels between Salam's qualified lament & "I Want My City Back" are none too subtle.

"I want my city back,
Back the way it used to be!
I want it back the way it was!
I looked around and found
This doesn't feel like my hometown,
And I don't like the way it does feel…"

Friday, April 11, 2014

Bier! | Project MERCATOR

Tonight, one of my brother Knights of Columbus gifted me a six-pack of his wife's & his home-brewed beer. Brother Envy (like Scott Pilgrim's "Envy" Adams, his code name is based on his initials, November Victor [which would itself be a pretty cool code name]) is one of the small but growing number of Knights in our council (a council is unique to a parish) who is close to my age, & we are fast forming a friendship above & beyond our brotherhood, based on similarities of personality & interests. His home brews are chilling in the refrigerator & I doubt I shall have one tonight, but I am curious to see what to-morrow evening brings, especially since the skies are forecast to be clear & the air warm, a lovely spring evening on which to crack open a beer or three.

In one of our conversations at to-day's Lenten fish fry, & I forget the details of the preamble, Brother Envy said to me, "That's kind of mean."

I replied, without missing a beat, "I know who I am." He found this a mightily impressive answer.

He's Dead, Jim
I tweaked my right wrist during the course of the fish fry. It was probably when I was hoisting the boxes of frozen fish out of the freezer, but I didn't feel anything in the moment. Shortly afterward, I noticed that something was rotten in the state of Denmark. I have full range of motion, but certain motions bring a sharp but bearable pain.

"Doctor, it hurts when I do this."
"So don't do that."


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Potshot, "Change" from Pots and Shots (T.L.A.M.)

Skammentary: Potshot hailed from the Land of the Rising Sun, & sang their songs in a mixture of Japanese & "Engrish," heavily Japanese-accented English. That plus the extreme speed of their songs make deciphering their lyrics a dicey proposition. "Change" was selection in part, though only a small part, because of the relative clarity of its lyrics. A few snippets:

"Wish I could say 'Good-bye' to myself…

"I want to change my cell phone…

"Still dance with a girl I love…"

Potshot's music is wicked enjoyable, even if it is indecipherable. Driving rhythm & blaring horns speak across language barriers.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Forces of Evil, "Independent" from Friend or Foe? (T.L.A.M.)

Skammentary: The verses of "Independent" of composed of call & answer betwixt a fellow & his militantly independent girlflesh.

"Will you please hold my hand?
I can't, I'm independent.
I want to be your man!
You can't! I'm independent.

"It's not that we don't know,
Why can't she let it go?
She's independent, she doesn't need your help!
She's independent, she'll do it by herself!…

"I'll call you on the phone.
You can't, I'm independent.
Let me know when you're home.
I can't! I'm independent…"

"I hate this game we're playin',
I can't hear what she's sayin',
Telling me that she is right and I am always wrong,
Everything she does
Is only just because
She's clinically insane!…"

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

This Week in Motorsport

Formula Fun!
Formula One World Championship
Round 1
Australian Grand Prix
Sunday, 16 March 2014

Round 2
Malaysian Grand Prix
Sunday, 30 March 2014

Round 3
Bahrain Grand Prix
Sunday, 6 April 2014

There were many, many driver changes in the F1 off-season, but through the first three grands prix of the year the main story, the only story that matters, is the baleful sound produced by the formula's new turbocharged V-6 engines. The high-pitched wail of old naturally-aspirated V-8 engines made my soul sing, touching a nerve inside my brain that said, "I love this;" the closest comparison I can make for the new, low-pitched growl of the turbo V-6s is to a Diesel tractor trailer, such as those that rumble down America's highways & byways. Honest! I didn't realize how important the V-8 wail was to the F1 experience 'til it was gone; I knew I had it good, but I didn't know how good. The latest grand prix was exciting, far & away the most exciting race I'd ever seen run around the flat-as-a-pancake Bahrain International Circuit, but there was still something essential missing. The sound of the engines has removed a key element that made watching an F1 grand prix joyful.

Of the three engine manufacturers in the series, Mercedes-Benz has adapted to the new engine formula better than either Renault or Ferrari. All the Mercedes-powered teams are doing well, none better than the factory Mercedes A.M.G. team, which has secured all three pole positions & won all three grands prix (Australia: Nico Rosberg, Malaysia & Bahrain: '08 World Champion Lewis Hamilton), including one-two finishes at both Malaysia & Bahrain. Reigning four-time Constructors' Champions Red Bull (Renault) (10, '11, '12, & '13) are struggling with their low-revving Renault "power units" (official lingo, as the cars don't have "engines" anymore, I suppose because they have two electric generators supplementing the internal combustion engine that still does the heavy lifting), but have still managed to finish on the podium at Australia & Malaysia & fourth at Bahrain. (Daniel Ricciardo, replacing the retired-from-F1 Mark Webber, finished second at his home grand prix in Australia, but was disqualified, pending appeal.) This is going to be a long, trying season for the defending champs unless Renault—which propels Toro Rosso, Lotus, & Caterham in addition to Red Bull—can work out the bugs in their underpowered "power unit." Reigning four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel's ('10, '11, '12, & '13) bid for a record-tying fifth consecutive championship looks decidedly imperiled, though the season is yet young.

It is really hard to get excited about F1 this year, that's how bad the power units engines sound. The cars are also ugly as sin, even uglier than they were last year with the regrettable "duck-bill" noses. These monstrosities are the last thing a young boy would want as a poster on his wall, they're so hideous. Yet even the rolling eyesore problem is small potatoes compared to the sound issue. The "Formula Fun!" title might have to be retired in favor of something more pessimistic, like "Formula Flub" or "Formula Done." It is almost as if F1 was too good, too enjoyable, & the F.I.A. had to break it because, like the Narrator in Fight Club, they "wanted to destroy something beautiful."

Indy Rock
IndyCar Series
Round 1
Grand Prix of Saint Petersburg
Sunday, 30 March 2014

I knew the F1 cars didn't sound good, but I didn't realize quite how bad they sounded until the IndyCar season opener. Last year, IndyCar's turbocharged V-6s couldn't hold a candle to F1's naturally-aspirated V-8s, but this year IndyCar's wailing turbocharged V-6s knock the socks off of F1's rumbling turbocharged V-6s. This is to my recollection the very first time that America's indigenous open-wheeled series, which I have enjoyed but regarded as F1's yokel cousin, has compared favorably to the globetrotting international open-wheeled extravaganza.

Will Power of Penske (Chevrolet), who finished second in the championship in '10, '11, & '12 but had an uncharacteristically lackluster 2013, was back to his classic form, passing pole-sitter Takuma Sato of Foyt (Honda) in the early running & never looking back. The race was pretty clean for a street circuit, lined as they are with concrete walls that provide precious little margin for error, with only one extended yellow late in the day. Here's hoping that augurs well for the rest of the year's street races, though I won't be holding my breath. The next race, the venerable Grand Prix of Long Beach, is also on a temporary street circuit.

By Endurance We Conquer
United SportsCar Championship
Round 1
24 at Daytona (A.K.A. the "24 Hours of Daytona")
Saturday & Sunday, 25-26 January 2014

Round 2
12 Hours of Sebring
Saturday, 15 March 2014

It is early days yet for the blandly named United SportsCar Championship (U.S.C.C.), the Frankenstein's monster wrought from the merger of the American Le Mans Series (A.L.M.S.) & the Grand-Am (sponsor) Sports Car Series, but what's been seen on-track is far from encouraging. The officiating has been laughably bad, & fully half of Sebring's twelve hours was spend running under yellow flags due to caution-period procedures that appear to have been devised by someone who had never before seen a motor race. Crashes happen, which means yellow flags must be flown for safety's sake, but there is a right way & a wrong way to do these things. So far, the U.S.C.C. has been all thumbs. They're acknowledged the undeniable & changes to the rules have been put in place for the next round at Long Beach, but given the merged series's mantra, "Getting it right, the first time" & how badly they got it wrong the first time, I have no confidence that they'll do any better on the second try.

The "balance of performance" in the top Prototype category is a joke. Prior to this year, the Le Mans Prototype 2 (L.M.P.2, or just "P.2") cars from the A.L.M.S. were vastly swifter than Grand-Am's primitive Daytona Prototypes at every track on which both types of cars ran, but with the weight, horsepower, & aerodynamic advantages that were given to the D.P.s in the off-season, combined with the weight, horsepower, & aerodynamic disadvantages to the P.2s, there is no fair competition in the Prototype class. The D.P.s cannot lose, despite their obvious disadvantages. It was bad enough that N.A.S.C.A.R., the owners of the U.S.C.C., banned the way cool, top-tier P.1-class prototypes, but now to have made the P.2s artificially inferior to the D.P.s, well, it's as if they've sucked all the oxygen out of the room. The new series feels like seventy per cent (70%) Grand-Am to only thirty per cent (30%) A.L.M.S., which was not what we fans were promised &, given the A.L.M.S. significantly greater popularity than Grand-Am, not what was in the new series's own best interests.

In G.T. Le Mans, the A.L.M.S.'s amazing G.T. category, transferred over without any changes & thus the only category not handicapped by ovular, inferior Continental tires, the brand-new Corvette Stingray C7.R has been competitive the brand-new-for-2013, all-conquering Porsche 911 RSR, except for mechanical unreliability, i.e., breakdowns. There hasn't been enough green-flag running to know whether the Corvettes can make up any of that lost time. Here's hoping the bugs are worked out before Le Mans, where the 911s were in a league of their own last year.

Below is a missive I posted to the U.S.C.C.'s FaceSpace page, in the probably vain hope that this train wreck of a series can be saved from itself, & with it the future of endurance racing in these United States.
To whom it may concern:
As a fan of the A.L.M.S., I was deeply concerned when the series was purchased by N.A.S.C.A.R., whose Grand-Am series had never been half as interesting as the A.L.M.S. I was encouraged by the inclusion of A.L.M.S. management personnel into the new U.S.C.C. structure & the prominence given to the august I.M.S.A. name as the "new" sanctioning body. Sure, the mantra "Getting it right, the first time" was a bad joke, exposed when the name of the new series changed from the uninspired United SportsCar Racing to the uninspiring United SportsCar Championship, but there was every reason to believe those behind the scene really were trying to get it right, the second or third or fourth time.

To this point, after two races, almost nothing has gone right. The officiating has been outrageous & the procedures have been a nightmare, faults acknowledged by the rules changes put in place ahead of Long Beach. The so-called "balance of performance" between the formerly sluggish Daytona Prototypes & the formerly swift Le Mans Prototypes has confirmed my worst fears: that this new series is not a merger between Grand-Am & the A.L.M.S., but Grand-Am, almost the same as before with just a little bit of A.L.M.S. window dressing. The imbalance of performance proves that N.A.S.C.A.R.—sorry, "I.M.S.A."—has no interest in creating a level playing field for the former A.L.M.S. teams. Including them in the U.S.C.C. is nothing but a cynical attempt to curry favor with the A.L.M.S.'s much larger fan base.

I love endurance racing & would hate for there not to be an American endurance racing series worth watching. Right now, alas, there is not an American endurance racing series worth watching. But it is not too late to fix this mess. You have the rest of this season to keep tinkering, to keep trying to get it right, be it for sixth or the seventh or the eighth time. But you do not have forever. If nothing changes through the rest of 2014, I won't be back in 2015. I speak only for myself, but I'm sure I'm not the only one thinking along these lines. Get it right, gentlemen, or I'll have to content myself with seeing my beloved Corvettes compete just once a year, at Le Mans.

Mike Wilson

P.S. Please prove me wrong. Please get this right & make the United SportsCar Championship worth my while.


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Skatalites, "The James Bond Theme" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Skammentary: Jamaica is home to so many things I love—well, only two, but those two things contain legions: ska & Ian Fleming's James Bond, 007. I once made the acquaintance of a pair of Jamaican fellows at a debate tournament in Vermont (they were appalled by the cold) & though I apologized for pigeonholing their nation to just this one thing, I could not help but gush over how much I love ska. Here The Skatalites combine my two favorite things about Jamaica into one sweet jam that makes my soul soar. As the pair of Jamaican chaps said, "Ska, ska, ska…"

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Explorers' Club, № CCCLXXXVII

Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judæa circa A.D. 26-36.


On Sunday, at a parish fundraiser in Fenton (Why was my parish, located in Burton, having a fundraiser in Fenton? That's a long story.) I parked the Lumi, the Distaff Son of the Mousemobile, sporting new patches of visible rust after the dark, killing winter, next to a pristine Audi R8. I've never been a fan of the R8's looks, based on still photographs of the road car & motion pictures of the racing version*. But this was the first time I'd had a chance to look at one close up with my own two eyes; I espied a different R8, in a completely different paint scheme, in Ann Arbor back in the fall, but caught only a glimpse as I trekked north on State Street & it rolled south. I was struck by the beauty of the machine, by how different its proportions were from the Hot Wheels scale replica that sits in my toy car collection. It was small, seating only two, but palpably powerful, even as it sat at rest. The R8 had not moved when I emerged from the fundraiser three & half hours later. The rear haunches are still better looking than the awkward, too Teutonic front end, but what a glorious machine, & what an excellent reminder that photographs are not dispassionate recorders of truth; they present a picture of the world, but they do not present inherently the truth or meaning of things; sometimes we need to see with our own eyes to understand.

Last week, I espied a vanity license plate: U1T UP. While appearing nonsensical at first, those cryptic figures were emblazoned on a fundraising license plate for the Michigan Agricultural College, also known by its name nom du jour, Michigan State University. The M.S.U. block "S" added to U1T UP leads me to read the inscription as SU1T UP, "Suit up." (Was UIT UP already taken?) This could be either an exhortation for the dastardly Spartans to "suit up," to don their green & white uniforms in preparation for competition, or a reference to Barney Stinson's sartorial catchphrase from the television series How I Met Your Mother, "Suit up!" In either event, I greet the ersatz SU1T UP warmly, regarding its playful use of both phrasing & typography as being generally superior to the failure of wit that so typifies vanity license plates.

*The road-going R8 is named for the all-conquering R8 Le Mans Prototype, with which Audi claimed overall victory in the 24 Heures du Mans in five of the seven years the R8 competed, plus seven consecutive American Le Mans Series (R.I.P.) class championships. Racing versions of the road-going R8 have since been fielded in many G.T.3-specification racing series, though not at Le Mans, which utilizes the higher-performance G.T.2-spec. I enjoy greatly the humor in Audi having made a race car out of a road car named after a race car.


The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
The Pietasters, "Maggie Mae" from Oolooloo (T.L.A.M.)

Skammentary: Ska's not just for kids.

"There's a place where we all go
To have a few when we feel low,
Drink ourselves into a state,
Drown our sorrow and fuel our hate.
A barmaid beauty in a tight black dress
Pours our beer and cleans our mess,
Answers to the name of Maggie Mae.
When we see her, what do we say?

"Maggie Mae, bring us another beer,
We need another beer
To take away our troubles here…"

Dienstag, 7 April
The Aquabats!, "Ska Robot Army!" from The Return of The Aquabats! (Captain Thumbs Up!)

Skammentary: The Aquabats! are still a going concern, but are now more of a neo-New Wave band than a third-wave ska band. Still, at their live shows they still play some of the old songs, & their music still has the same silliness, even its musical character has changed. "Ska Robot Army!" is old-school The Aquabats!, straight out of the SoCal ska scene, & lampooning the same.

"Rude boys! Rude girls! Skinheads!
Chewbacca! Chewbacca! Lake Titicaca!
Chewbacca's on a scooter, man, holy crap!

"They're coming to take over,
To terrorize the Earth!
Skanking in their best suits,
Beware of the ska robot army!"

Project OSPREY
The last word on Project OSPREY 'til the fall (unless rending of clothes & gnashing of teeth is prompted by multiple departures for the N.B.A. by insufficiently loyal valiant Wolverines): I don't give a tinker's damn for U.Conn., but hooray for A.B.C., Anybody But Calipari!

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Victors | Project OSPREY

Thursday, 20 March 2014
N.C.A.A. Tournament, Midwest Region Round of 64
(№ 2) Michigan 57-40 Wofford (№ 15)
26-8 (includes postseason), Big Ten 15-3 (regular season only)

Saturday, 22 March 2014
N.C.A.A. Tournament, Midwest Region Round of 32
(№ 2) Michigan 79-65 Texas (№ 7)
27-8, Big Ten 15-3

Friday, 28 March 2014
N.C.A.A. Tournament, Midwest Regional Semifinal
(№ 2) Michigan 73-71 Tennessee (№ 11)
28-8, Big Ten 15-3

Sunday, 30 March 2014
N.C.A.A. Tournament, Midwest Regional Final
(№ 8)Kentucky 75-72 Michigan (№ 2)
28-9, Big Ten 15-3

Alas! The most gutting thing about the valiant Wolverines' loss to the epithetless Wildcats in the "Elite Eight" is that Michigan could have won, should have won. Two more made shots, shots that we made all season but didn't drop on a slightly sub-par shooting night, & a second consecutive berth in the Final Four was in the offing. Alas! There is no goat, no player who lost the game for Michigan; the valiant Wolverines in 2013-2014 were the embodiment of Bo Schembechler's "team" philosophy; they won together & we lost together. 'Twas a wonderful season, a season that saw Michigan win an outright Big Ten championship for the first time in decades. 'Twas a season that proved that the 2012-2013 squad's tournament run was no fluke, that head coach John Beilein has built a solid program in Ann Arbor, one that can & will reload for the years ahead.

There are major question marks over the roster of the 2014-2015 edition of the valiant Wolverines. There is the possibility that all three or some combination sophomore guard Nik Stauskas, sophomore forward Glenn Robinson III, & sophomore forward (center) Mitch McGary might leave school early & try their luck at professional basketball. If all three return, next season's valiant Wolverines will be well-positioned to make another run at the Big Ten title & national glory. If all three depart, the valiant Wolverines will still be fine, as others will step forward & carry the banner for the maize & blue. These are extraordinary days in the up-&-down history of Michigan basketball. Appreciate them as the rarity they might prove, but keep your fingers crossed that as long as Coach Beilein remains, this level of achievement will remain laudable, but become ordinary.

Go Blue!

Project OSPREY
Regarding tonight's national championship game, I have no love for the University of Connecticut (known almost universally as "U.Conn."), but I adhere to the A.B.C. school of thought: Anybody But Calipari, meaning Kentucky's sleazebag cheater of a coach, John Calipari, who is the embodiment of everything that is wrong with collegiate athletics. Calipari is human garbage, & the thought of his club winning it all makes my stomach turn. A.B.C.! Go, epithetless Huskies!

Sunday, April 6, 2014


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Streetlight Manifesto, "Down, Down, Down to Mephisto's Café" from Somewhere In the Between (T.L.A.M.)

Skammentary: My original thought was to use this Lenten Sunday to highlight an explicitly Christian ska song, such as Five Iron Frenzy's "Far Far Away" or The Indyderz-es' "God Almighty," only to recall that both those examples had bathed in the SKApril limelight in days of yore, SKAprils '11 & '12, respectively. So, I've gone in the opposite direction, choosing to highlight an ambiguously anti-theistic, potentially diabolical song. Streetlight Manifesto is another latter-day ska band on whom Ska Army is very high whom I view as sufficient, but not even remotely special. "Down, Down, Down to Mephisto's Café" is amusing, though overlong. Were it shorter, & was more emphasis placed on the excellent music at the expense of the pompously self-important lyrics, it would be a really good song, instead of just a good song. Ska is great—GREAT—but not universally so. Today's SKApril R.B.D.S.O.T.D. serves ends of both variety & humility.

"…He said, 'You'll never have to choose a side,
It's rewarding, but on the road it's hard'…"

Neutrality is a myth. Refusing to choose a side is a comforting lie to those who haven't thought the matter through, but the swearing of disinterested neutrality is itself a declaration of both allegiance & war.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Hippos, "Rock & Roll" from Forget the World (T.L.A.M.)

Skammentary: At the end, The Hippos were no longer a ska band, & bound together by no shared musical identity, the band broke up. Front man Ariel Rechtshaid has gone on to be a producer of truly awful music for the likes of the Bieber, Plain White T's, & Vampire Weekend (the latest, crummiest album). Once upon a time, though, back in the day, The Hippos burst forth from the L.B.C., the beating heart of third-wave ska.

"Rock & Roll" is almost an instrumental piece, a joyous encapsulation of the verve of the ska that came out of southern California in that brief moment in time, the 1990s. The lyrics of "Rock & Roll" are printed below in their entirety.

"Rock, rock & roll" (x3).

Friday, April 4, 2014


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Planet Smashers, "She's So Hot" from Attack of the Planet Smashers (T.L.A.M.)

Skammentary: "She's So Hot" is mostly a warning, that the ska kid to whom it is addressed will have difficulty satisfying a girl so hot in a relationship. Basically, she's too good for him, which was pretty much an article of faith in the ska community. (See also: "Dateless Losers" by the Reel Big Fish.) Sweet ska guitar throughout keeps things bouncy & fun.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

All the Russias | The Savage Wars of Peace

Sergei Lavrov, foreign minister of the Russian Federation, as quoted in a B.B.C. report last updated this morning: "But Mr. Lavrov accused N.A.T.O. of exaggerating the importance of Russian troop movements on the borders of eastern Ukraine. He said Russia had the right to move troops within its territory…" (B.B.C.-link). Taken in isolation, Mr. Lavrov's comments are correct, Russia does have the right to move troops within its territory. The sticky wicket to this situation is that darned context, that as we have seen over the last several weeks the Russians arbitrarily & unilaterally expand their territory at the expense of other nations' sovereignty & in flagrant contravention of international "law" & the Russian Federation's own treaty obligations. Our concern here in the West, Comrade Lavrov, is that Russian troops by any other name—"Ukrainian self-defense forces" in the case of the Crimean invasion—will roll over the Ukrainian frontier, occupy eastern Ukraine (if not the whole blasted country), & then present Moscow with a fait accompli, another bit of "its territory" in which Russia will "have the right to move troops" to & fro.

Don't let the "Savage Wars of Peace" banner spook you; there will be no war between the the Russian Federation & the United States, not over Crimea, not even over the whole of Ukraine. "The Savage Wars of Peace" is simply the banner under which we here at The Secret Base discuss matters martial & more broadly geopolitical. There will be no war, but the Russian bear is lurking just over the frontier, poised to devour Ukraine on President Putin's whim, & N.A.T.O. is deploying warplanes in an insufficient bid to reassure the Baltic trio that their sovereignty will be defended & preserved.


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Suburban Legends, "High Fives" from Rump Shaker (T.L.A.M.)

Skammentary: The Loose Ties are enthusiastic fans of the Suburban Legends (they cover "High Fives," for example), your humble narrator less so. I ascribe this at least partially to a generation gap; they're just younger than me enough to have missed the Summer of Ska ('97), & thus they have an underdeveloped appreciation for such bands as, to pick the most egregious oversight, Less Than Jake. Thus, while variety-being-the-spice-of-life certainly weighed in the Suburban Legends' favor, they would not have have been chosen to provide the R.B.D.S.O.T.D.: SKApril if they were not worth our while.

Two mildly relevant snippets of dialogue from
Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle:

Kumar: "You're worthless."
Harold: "I'm not worthwhile."

Kumar: "You might just be worthwhile."
Harold: "I'm not worthless."

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
King Apparatus, "Michael & Anne" from Marbles (T.L.A.M.)

Skammentary: In a Real Can of Yams songs, "Riot Grrl," I did rhyme the word "skank" with the word "skank," but this was an intentional play on the word's two meanings. "I want a girl who likes to skank,/I want a girl who's not a skank." The first "skank" refers to the dance, the second "skank" refers to sexual promiscuity. Not all that clever, but amusing enough to your author. I really, really like "Michael & Anne"—I would not have chosen it as today's R.D.B.S.O.T.D.: SKApril if I didn't—but I have to shake my head at the lyrics of the song's chorus:

"Michael and Anne are thinking it up,
A story to tell when the cops show up.
Michael and Anne are thinking it up,
A story to tell when the cops show up…"

Also, I am ridiculously proud at this year's innovation, the recasting of commentary as "skammentary."

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Operation AXIOM

I had a reasonably effective April Fools' Day, with my FaceSpace pranks paying dividends. My grand plans for The Secret Base were scuttled by a lack of time & a lack of forethought, but there's always next year. For the second year in a row, I changed by FaceSpace profile photo to an archival shot of me before my whiskers (well, before most of my whiskers, since I did sport an imperial, or "soul patch," in those days) & for the second year in a row some bought the ruse hook, line, & sinker. Last year, the principal victim was Nick Andopolis, drummer for The Loose Ties; this year, my mother allowed her good sense to be snookered by her disdain for my whiskers. (For the record, she hates my tattoos, too, & wishes I'd let my hair grow.) I also changed the banner image across the top of my FaceSpace page to the "O" of President Obama's two campaigns & posted some vague drivel about reevaluating my opinions on socioeconomic & geopolitical issues. This pranks snared some, but also brought out a number of knowing winks from those who sniffed subterfuge. All in all, I'm pleased.

How was your April Fools' Day, treasured readers? Regale me with tales of pranks who pulled on others or others' pranks for which you fell. April Fools!

Urbi et Orbi
Through the end of the first quarter, I've attended Mass nineteen times, averaging just over six Masses per month through the first three months of Anno Domini 2014. Were that pace to be sustained, which it shan't be, I'd attend Mass seventy-six times in '14, shattering '13's record of sixty-three Masses. More importantly, I've yet to miss a Sunday, which is this year's central attendance goal. Onward & upward.


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Reel Big Fish, "Don't Stop Skankin'" from Candy Coated Fury (Ska Army)

Skammentary: "Don't Stop Skankin'" is really two songs in one track, "Don't Stop Skankin'" proper, a nearly instrumental piece that occupies three quarters of the track's four-minute length, & a separate piece I call "Rudy," an homage to & partial cover of The Specials' seminal "A Message to You, Rudy."

Ska Army posted the following hyperlink to my FaceSpace page yesterday (the video is of "Don't Stop Skankin'" proper only): ska-link. Happy SKApril, rude boys & rude girls! Don't stop skankin'!