Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Weekly Wednesday Weigh-in
Last week: 338.2 lbs
This week: 335.2 lbs.
Difference: -3.0 lbs.

There was no difficulty in acquiring a reading this morning. I am striking the very same stance I always have, to the best of my ability. So the gains—that is, losses—of the last two weigh-ins might just be genuine. I am having the devil of a time keeping my pants up, even with my belts tightened as never before. Onward!

Perchance to Dream | Project GLOWWORM
I had a nightmare this morning, in which a cheek-shaving mishap lead to the demise of the flying wing on the right side of my moustache. On the left side I had my familiar & treasured handlebar, but on the right side I was reduced to a chevron (think Tom Selleck's moustache from Magnum, P.I.). Zounds! Thank Heaven 'twas only a dream!

This past weekend, repeated reference was made to my having a "hipster" moustache. To my credit, I did not visit violence upon the offending speaker, however much he deserved to have his skull bashed in with a crowbar.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "White & Nerdy" from Straight Outta Lynnwood (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Charles C. W. Cooke, writing on the current popularity of "nerd" culture: "Which is to say that [these nerds] are not actually nerds but the popular kids indulging in a fad." I've been a nerd my entire life: I was picked on in elementary school for earning high marks. My first live concert was "Weird Al" Yankovic. I've been to more than one Star Trek convention. In high school, a girl lied to get out of going to the prom with me. I well understand why Kurt Cobain was so distressed when exactly the sorts of preppy monsters who had tormented him in his youth started showing up to Nirvana concerts, pretending to like & understand his music. Today's "nerds" aren't nerds at all; I suppose after all this time I should be more used to them ruining everything, even being a nerd.

"Only question I ever thought was hard
Was, Do I like Kirk or do I like Picard?…"

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

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

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Lame Claim to Fame" from Mandatory Fun (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I wish I was cool as a cucumber when encountering a celebrity, but in the few instances I've met musicians from bands I admire I've been thoroughly star-struck. Alas!

Not so with Trebek, my sworn enemy.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Explorers' Club, № CDIII

Operation AXIOM: The World War
23-25 July 1914: The "July Ultimatum"—Austria-Hungary's demands against the Kingdom of Serbia, which were meant to be rejected, thus providing Vienna with the casus belli it desired.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "First World Problems" from Mandatory Fun (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I considered choosing something more of a piece with this week's episode of "The Explorers' Club," but the profundity of the tragedy of July 1914, the arrogance & the folly, the fools rushing headlong into destruction, is such that I needed to be reminded that life is worth living. Who better than "Weird Al" at reaffirming life's inherent value? Yes, being saddened by a war that began a century ago, however horrific that war might have been & however significant it was in shaping the world we live in today, still qualifies as a First World problem.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


Today is the memorial of Saint Joachim & Saint Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary & grandparents of the Christ (1st Century B.C.): saint-link him & Wikipedia-link him, saint-link her & Wikipedia-link her.
The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
They Might Be Giants, "Escape from the Planet of the Apes" (live) from Severe Tire Damage (T.L.A.M.)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Urbi et Orbi

This morning, Where's Teddy? asked me where I was going. I said, "To church." He looked crestfallen & said, "You go to church every day." What in the high holy heck? In the first place, he said it the same way a son would to a parent who had missed yet another T-ball game for a work meeting, "You go to work every day." In the second place, he almost never sees me go to church, because the Sundays I skip Mass are often those that find me down at Xanadu with his family. It's my birthday & if I want to receive the Eucharist on my birthday that's what I'm going to do, by Jove!

This morning, I attended my fifty-second Mass of the year, meeting this year's quota before the end of the seventh month. Of course, quite early on I knew fifty-two Masses wouldn't be a problem, but even I am surprised at the way summer has accelerated the pace of Mass-attendance, whereas normally summer is the period when I most frequently miss. The number of Masses is not what's important, but rather the faithfulness they engender. So, I've got that going for me.


Today is the feast of the Apostle Saint James the Greater (the son of Zebedee, called "the Greater" so as not to be confused with his fellow Apostle Saint James the Lesser, the son of Alphaeus): saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of This Day
Robbie Williams & Frank Sinatra*, "It Was a Very Good Year" from Swing When You're Winning (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: *I thought about typing "& Frank Sinatra (from beyond the grave!)" since the Chairman of the Board's contribution is from archival recordings, Old Blue Eyes having shuffled off this mortal coil before Williams recorded Swing When You're Winning. Such posthumous duets—exemplified by Natalie Cole's duet of "Unforgettable" with her late father, Nat King Cole—are not nearly so offensive as, say, archival footage of Fred Astaire manipulated so that he's dancing with a vacuum cleaner, but there is still something somewhat unsettling about a collaboration in which only one of the collaborators has consented. Nevertheless, 'tis the R.B.D.S.O.T.D.

"When I was thirty-five
It was a very good year,
It was a very good year
For blue-blooded girls of independent means,
We'd ride in limousines,
Their chauffeurs would drive,
When I was thirty-five…"

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Today is the memorial of Saint Sharbel Makhluf (1828-1898), Christian name also spelt Charbel, surname also spelt Maklouf: saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: The latter-day hermit's name is spelt Sharbel Makhluf in both the parish bulletin & the website. The Wikipedia gives three versions of the name: Charbel Makhluf, Sharbel Maklouf, & Charbel Makhlouf. I do not know which combination of spellings is most correct, as I lack any & all expertise on transliterating names written in Syriac or Arabic into modern English's Latin-derived alphabet.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Space, "Female of the Species (Fembot Mix)" from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery—Original Soundtrack (T.L.A.M.)


"Shock, shock, horror, horror, shock, shock, horror,
I'll shout myself hoarse for your supernatural force.
The female of the species is more deadly than the male.

"Oh, she deals in witchcraft,
And one kiss and I'm zapped,
Oh, how can Heaven hold a place for me
When a girl like you has cast her spell on me?
Oh, how can Heaven hold a place for me
When a girl like you has cast her spell on me?

"Frankenstein and Dracula have nothing on you.
Jekyll and Hyde, join the back of the queue.
The female of the species is more deadly than the male.
Oh, she wants to conquer the world completely,
But first she'll conquer me discreetly.
The female of the species is more deadly than the male.

"Oh, she deals in witchcraft…"

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Weekly Wednesday Weigh-in
Last week: 343.6 lbs
This week: "338.2" lbs.
Difference: "-5.4" lbs.

I do not trust the results of morning's weigh-in, thus the quotation marks. The electronic scale was all over the place. I tried to hold still, but I must lean forward in order to see around my rotund belly & spy the digital display. This very technique had been successful through ÖSTERREICH to this point, but this morning I received a series of "ERR" messages before the machine settled on the three hundred thirty-eight point two figure quoted above. This is discouraging, because how am I to know if I am progressing or regressing if I cannot take reasonably accurate measurements? Onward, with uncertainty.

Today is the memorial of Saint Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373), patroness of Europe & founder of the Brigettines, formally the Order of the Most Holy Savior: saint-link, Wikipedia-link, & Order-link.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Foil" from Mandatory Fun (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: As we progress through time, my preference migrates toward the "style parodies" on "Weird Al's" albums, as opposed to the direct parodies. This is, methinks, largely because I am no longer familiar with most of the popular music of the day, the basis of the direct parodies. When I first heard "Royals," or which "Foil" is a direct parody, I couldn't believe the sorry state of pop music. Before listening to Mandatory Fun I'd never heard either "Fancy," parodied as "Handy," or "Radioactive," parodied as "Inactive." This is what's popular these days? I never thought I'd be almost—almost! I stess—nostalgic for the days of Linkin Park & N*Sync. If you need me, I'll be over there cursing under my breath & further withdrawing from popular culture.

As a big fat fatty, I have always loved "Weird Al's" food songs, & "Foil" fits proudly in this tradition. Nevertheless, the non-food back half of the song is what I most enjoy.

"Oh, by the way I've cracked the code,
I figured out these shadow organizations,
And the Illuminati know
That they're finally primed for world domination.

"And so you've got black helicopters coming 'cross the border,
Puppet masters for the New World World Order,
Be aware, there's always someone that's watching you.
And still the government won't admit they faked the whole Moon landing,
Thought control rays, psychotronic scanning, don't mind that!
I'm protected 'cause I made this hat—

"From aluminum foil! (Foil)
Wear a hat that's foil-lined,
In an alien's inclined
To probe your butt or read your mind.
Looks a bit peculiar ('culiar),
Seems a little crazy,
But someday I'll prove (I'll prove, I'll prove, I'll prove)
There's a big conspiracy."

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Today is the memorial of Saint Mary Magdalene (1st Century): saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Yesterday, Monday, 21 July, was the memorial of Saint Lawrence of Brindisi (1559-1619): saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: A hitherto non-utilized resource? The parish bulletin. You fool, of course! The bulletin!

Sunday, 20 July, was/would have been the memorial of Saint Apollinaris of Ravenna (1st Century): saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: "Was/would have" because I'm fuzzy on the complex rules by which a saint's memorial is or is not celebrated when it falls on a Sunday in Ordinary Time.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Mission Statement" from Mandatory Fun (T.L.A.M.)

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Robbie Williams, "Candy" from Take the Crown (T.L.A.M.)


"Hey! Ho! Here she go,
Either a little too high or a little too low,
Got no self-esteem and vertigo,
'Cause she thinks she's made of candy.
Hey! Ho! Here she go,
Either a little too loud or a little too close,
Got a hurricane in the back of her throat,
'Cause she thinks she's made of candy…"

Also, apropos of nothing:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Explorers' Club, № CDII

Operation AXIOM: The World War
The Triple Entente (1907-1917): The French Republic, the Russian Empire, & the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland.

Commentary: There are more than three flags in the image above, but that's O.K., because unlike the Triple Alliance the Triple Entente survived the war's beginning, not merely remaining intact but adding members such as Belgium, Japan, & Serbia (at the time, usually spelt "Servia" in the West).

Operation AXIOM

Forty-five years ago today, 20 July 1969, "men from the Planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon… We came in peace for all Mankind." Heaven forbid that we here at The Secret Base should even let this seminal anniversary pass unobserved. Mister Neil Armstrong & Colonel "Buzz" Aldrin first walked on the Moon, forty-five days ago to the day.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Neil Armstrong, "Apollo 11 Excerpt 21" from The Apollo Missions (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The Apollo Missions consists of excerpts from the radio transmissions of the Apollo missions, transmissions betwixt N.A.S.A. Mission Control in Houston & the astronauts en route to, in orbit of, on the surface of, & returning from the Moon. It makes for extraordinary listening. A transcription of "Apollo 11 Excerpt 21" in its entirely:

"For those who haven't read the plaque, we'll read the plaque that's on the front landing gear of this 'L.E.M.' There's two hemispheres, one showing each of the two hemispheres of Earth. Underneath it says, 'Here men from the Planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon/July 1969 A.D./We came in peace for all Mankind.' It has the crewmembers' signatures and the signature of the President of the United States."

Saturday, July 19, 2014


I cut my hair today, a fortnight & a day later than I was scheduled to do so. In fact, ideally I'd like to buzz my hair every two weeks, so I was a full cycle behind schedule. Adding to the pre-cut misery the house's air conditioning has remained turned off even as the unseasonable temperance has subsided & the heat has returned. (Mom is still largely sedentary due to her improving-but-still-bum leg & I insisted on bringing to her "sickbed"—the living room couch—an electric stand fan from the guest bedroom, so she's normally quite comfortable.) "Swamp ass" yesterday, & a sweatbox atop my head. A happy boy I was not. Now, as the fan near my desk whirls away, I can feel the cool, rushing air on my scalp. Ah, bliss!

I must not be so slothful again. In two weeks, buzz buzz goes the electric clippers.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Robbie Williams, "Ain't That a Kick In the Head?" from Swing When You're Winning (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I'm on a Robbie Williams kick. So sue me.

"I've sunshine enough to spread…"


Today is the memorial of Saint Arsenius the Great (c. 350-445), also known by the epithets the Deacon & the Roman, one of the most august & austere of the Desert Fathers: saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Urbi et Orbi
What better way to start the last day of the week than with Bible study & fellowship? Afterward, I was even afforded the chance to do a little volunteer work. Glory to the God in the highest!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Camaro Day again today. Maybe it has mostly to do with being in "downtown" Grand Blanc? I espy Camaros aplenty beyond the city limits, but both Camaro Days seem to have been kicked off in the heart of G.B.


As Father mentioned at Mass this morning, today is the memorial of Saint Camillus de Lellis (1550-1614), founder of the Camillians—formally the Clerics Regular, Ministers to the Sick—& originator of the red cross as a symbol of medical care: saint-link & order-link.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Robbie Williams, "Millennium" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Remember the Nineteen Nineties, when the Two Thousands was "the future"? When the turn of the millennium would mark an epoch in human affairs? Writing now from the mid Twenty Tens, it seems to this author that much has changed, but that much more remains the same. Welcome to the new millennium, same as the old millennium.

"We've got stars directing our fate,
And we're praying it's not too late,
'Cause we know we're fallen from grace,

Thursday, July 17, 2014


The weather has been unseasonably pleasant the last three days. The best part of that temperance has been, well, everything, & included in that has been the chance once again to wear my driving gloves. Raise an eyebrow if you wish, regard me with whatever preconceptions about those who wear driving gloves you care to possess, or devise on short notice. I adore wearing my driving gloves.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Robbie Williams, "Where There's Muck" from Swings Both Ways (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Where there's muck there's brass" is apparently British slang meaning "where there's a dirty job to be done, there's money to be made." That said, I still have no idea what "Where There's Muck" is really about; O.K., the subject is a shipwreck, but I can't tell you the deeper meaning behind that metaphor.

"Where there's muck
There's brass,
Kiss my ass!
Where there's muck
There's brass,
Kiss my ass!

"I'm not asking you,
I'm telling you:
Kiss my ass!…"


Today is the memorial of Pope Saint Leo IV (790-855), builder of the Leonine Walls: saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: I'm perfectly comfortable with BLACK MAMBA being equal parts "Urbi et Orbi" & "The Explorers' Club."

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


This was apparently Camaro Day in the Flint metropolitan area. Where I motored, there was a Camaro, & there was another Camaro, & there a third. There were coupes & convertibles, each more bitchin' than the last, late-model Camaro after late-model Camaro. As the annual Back to the Bricks automotive extravaganza approaches (August, for those interested), the classic Camaros will make their way out of garages, out from under lovingly arranged covers, & off of trailers, joining in the fun with their latter-day inheritors.

Daddy Dylweed, who drives a current-generation Camaro, came to mind, & I smiled.

This afternoon, I espied an interesting vanity license plate, & surprisingly not on a Camaro: SEQUEST. I am choosing to read this as a reference to the '90s science-fiction television show SeaQuest D.S.V. (later retitled SeaQuest 2032), best described as a failed Star Trek rip-off, set amidst the literal ocean rather than the figurative ocean of stars. I suppose SEQUEST could mean sequester (a term I first heard roughly twenty years ago in relation to the O.J. Simpson murder trial jury), but where's the fun in that? SeaQuest it is!

Last week, I espied a curious license plate frame: "Caution—Driver has X-ray vision." Whether we are meant to exercise caution because he can see right through our vehicles or because he might be dosing every other motorist with excessive X-rays remains unclear.


Weekly Wednesday Weigh-in
Last week: 347.0 lbs
This week: 343.6 lbs.
Difference: -3.4 lbs.

In the last seven days I have lost three point four pounds & now weigh exactly one pound less than I did three weeks hence, before gaining weight over the course of the next fortnight. I initially thought I had lost less weight, but repeated remeasuring produced the consistently lower results posted above. (Repeatability is fundamental to proper scientific measurement.) I am gaining an appreciation for what my wrestler friends went through in high school. Back on track, but having made far less progress than I should have over that three-week period. I doubt this will be the last time I take one step backward for every two steps forward, but I will strive to make it so. Onward!

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel: Scapular-link & Wikipedia-link.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Robbie Williams, "If I Only Had a Brain" from Swings Both Ways (T.L.A.M.)


"I would not be just for nothin',
My head all full of stuffin',
My heart all full of pain;
Perhaps I'd deserve you
And be even worthy of you,
If I only had a brain…"

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Today is the memorial of Saint Bonaventure (1221-1274), the "Seraphic Doctor": saint-link Ein, saint-link Zwei, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Sweet fancy Moses, I am loving Objective BLACK MAMBA!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Theme from Rocky XIII" from In 3-D (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: It's not quite "You can't have one without the other," as "Temptation" & "Hawaiian War Chant" are for the University of Michigan Marching Band, but personally I can't think of yesterday's R.B.D.S.O.T.D., Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger," without also thinking of "Weird Al's" "Theme from Rocky XIII."

"Fat and weak, what a disgrace,
Guess the Champ got too lazy.
Ain't gonna fly now, he's just taking up space,
Sold his gloves, through his eggs down the drain.

"But he's no bum, he works down the street,
He bought the neighborhood deli;
Back on his feet now he's chopping up meat,
Come inside, maybe you'll hear him say:

"'Try the rye or the kaiser,
They're on special tonight,
If you want you can have an appetizer.
You might like our salami,
And the liver's alright,
And they really go well with the rye or the kaiser!'

"Never eats while on the job,
He heard it's good to stay hungry,
But he makes a pretty mean shish kebab,
Have a taste, they were made fresh today.

"'Try the rye or the kaiser,
Or the wheat or the white,
Maybe I can suggest an appetizer.
Stay away from the tuna
It smells funny tonight,
But you just can go wrong with the rye or the kaiser!'

"So today his deli comes first,
Still he dreams of his past days of glory.
Goes in the back and beats up on the liverwurst,
All the while you can still hear him say:

"'It's the rye or the kaiser,
It's the thrill of one bite,
Let me please be your catering advisor.
If you want substitutions
I won't out up a fight,
You can have your roast beef on the rye or the kaiser!'"

Monday, July 14, 2014


Today is the memorial of Saint Kateri/Catherine Tekakwitha (1656-1680), the "Lily of the Mohawks": saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: The search for a reliable, authoritative calendar of saints continues. Note to self: check official sources; mayhap the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has the resources for which you seek.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Survivor, "Eye of the Tiger" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)


"So many times it happens too fast,
You trade your passion for glory.
Don't lose your grip on the dreams of the past,
You must fight just to keep them alive.

"It's the eye of the tiger,
It's the thrill of the fight,
Rising up to the challenge of our rivals…"

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Explorers' Club, № CDI

Operation AXIOM: The World War
The Triple Alliance (1882-1914): The Austro-Hungarian Empire, the German Empire, & the Kingdom of Italy.

The Queue
Lamb was in places surprisingly poignant & more often vexingly infantile, frequently blasphemous & occasionally, startlingly reverent. My biggest issue with the book was the sheer volume of penis. There was penis everywhere, as if Man was no more than a phallus. There isn't all that much sex in Lamb, judged by the standards of Moore's body of work, but there is plenty of penis—penis, penis everywhere. Instead of Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, the book could just as well have been called Penis: The Johnson according to Willy, Dick's Childhood Pecker. It is for this bizarre weakness alone that I cannot recommend Lamb to you, gentle readers.

Rev. Keller is a Protestant, the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, marking the first time I've branched out beyond Catholic writers in my theological reading since C. S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters in '11 (Wayback Machine). Though I suppose that might not be true, since Lamb could be considered theological reading, after a fashion.

Christopher Moore, The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror
Father Michael E. Gaitley, 33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Marian Consecration
Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal

Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism

Edgar Rice Burroughs, Swords of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Synthetic Men of Mars
Matthew Kelly, Rediscover Catholicism: A Spiritual Guide to Living with Passion & Purpose
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Llana of Gathol
Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Carter of Mars
Sir Ernest Shackleton, South: A Memoir of the Endurance Voyage
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


Today is the memorial of Saint Henry (972-1024), A.K.A. Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor, who was once personally healed by Saint Benedict: saint-link.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Rilo Kiley, "A Better Son/Daughter" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Pardon Rilo Kiley's French.

"And sometimes when you're on,
You're really fucking on,
And your friends, they sing along and they love you.
But the lows are so extreme
That the good seems fucking cheap
And it teases you for weeks in its absence.

"But you'll fight and you'll make it through,
You'll fake it if you have to,
And you'll show up for work with a smile,
And you'll be better and you'll be smarter,
And more grown up, and a better daughter
Or son, and a real good friend.

"You'll be awake, you'll be alert.
You'll be positive though it hurts.
And you'll laugh and embrace all your friends.
You'll be a real good listener,
You'll be honest, you'll be brave,
You'll be handsome and you'll be beautiful.
You'll be happy…"

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Ramones, "Blitzkrieg Bop" from Ramones Mania (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: In memoriam Tommy Ramone (1949-2014). Requiescat in pace.


Today is the memorial of the martyred Saint John Jones (d. 1598), also commemorated on 25 October as one of the Forty Martyrs of England & Wales: saint-link & martyr-link.

Friday, July 11, 2014


As Father mentioned at Mass this morning, today is the feast day of Saint Benedict of Nursia (480-c. 547), author of the Rule of Saint Benedict & founder of the Benedictines: saint-link & Rule-link.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Aquabats!, "Pool Party!" from Myths, Legends, and Other Amazing Adventures, Vol. 2 (Captain Thumbs Up!)

Commentary: You think you know how cool yesterday evening's pool party was? "You don't even know, dude!"

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Explorers' Club, № CD

Operation AXIOM: The World War
The "July Crisis" of 1914—The capture of the assassin, Gavrilo Princip (1894-1918), & his conspirators; accusations & the appearance of Serbian & Montenegrin collusion in the assassination; & Germany's "blank cheque" to Austria-Hungary.


Yesterday, 9 July, was the feast day of Saint Veronica Giuliani (1660-1727): saint-link. Stigmata!

Commentary: I shall have to find a different calendar of saints, as the calendar I've been using appears to be less accurate than one might wish. What else should one expect from the interwebs? I meant well & all error was unintentional. There is considerable value in learning about a saint, even on a day that is not her feast/memorial.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Grand Funk Railroad, "We're an American Band" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Heard yesterday in a rerun of Supernatural. I do not endorse the "sex-drugs, & rock & roll" ethos in "We're an American Band," & as songs about being in a band in the early Nineteen Seventies go, C.C.R.'s "Travelin' Band" is superior, but it's still been stuck in my head since last night.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Fortnightly Weigh-in: In the last two weeks I have gained two point four pounds (2.4 lbs.), rising from three hundred forty-four point six pounds (344.6 lbs.) to three hundred forty-seven pounds (347.0 lbs.). This is exactly what I weighed four weeks ago; I've wasted the last month. What the hell, Mike?

As much as I like the word "fortnightly," henceforth there will be a weekly weigh-in. I don't have data beyond the fortnightly weigh-ins to back up the following, but my sense is that I indulge too much in the week following a weigh-in & then try to rein things in in the week leading to a weigh-in. That might be a load of dingo's kidneys, but this is a data-driven process, so data, data, data, more data can only help.

By Lucifer's beard!


Today is the feast day of the martyred Saint Nicholas Pieck (1534-1572) & Companions: saint-link. See also: St. Nicholas-link & Gorkum-link.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The New Main Street Singers, "The Good Book Song" from A Mighty Wind: The Album (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Bwa ha!

"It's scary but it's true,
And if I were you,
I'd do what the Good Book,
Do what the Good Book,
Do what the Good Book tells me to!…"

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Code Name: CHAOS

In the usual formulation for my brother Knights of Columbus, Brother Envy would be code named Brother November Victor. "Envy" was based on his initials, like November Victor, along with an affinity for Scott Pilgrim. Based on his wife's suggestion for a real-world nickname, he shall henceforth by known by the code name Brother Nacho. Why Nacho? "Nacho" is apparently a diminutive of Ignacio (Ignatius). Of course, Brother Nacho's name isn't Ignacio, nor Ignatius, nor Ignatz, so that really isn't any explanation at all, but she wants to call him Nacho & I'm on board. This of course makes her Mrs. Brother Nacho.

It is all well & good to title saint-o'-the-day posts "Urbi et Orbi," but it is inexcusable not to give the acknowledged month-long experiment its own title. Inexcusable! I thumbed through one of my old Moleskines, which contains a list of quality code names awaiting assignment to worthy endeavors, & found BLACK MAMBA. Thus:

Urbi et Orbi: Objective* BLACK MAMBA
Today is the feast day of Saint Gregory Grassi (1833-1900) & Companions: saint-link.

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

Commentary: The horns in "King of the World" call to mind "Ring of Fire," intentionally to be sure.

"Well, I'm nobody's baby,
I'm everybody's girl,
I'm the queen of nothing,
I'm the king of the world…"

*"Objective" is standard Secret Base code-naming convention for one-time, temporary, or fixed-duration thingamajiggers. There is no discernible (or at least thus far discerned) distinction 'twixt Projects & Operations, other than whichever pairs better with a given code name.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Perchance to Dream

I awoke from a nightmare this morning. I was one of a group of children being pursued through a skyscraper by heavily armed, masked terrorists in a lethal game of hide & seek. The windows cruelly offered false hope of escape, as on the roof was a telepathic sniper. Not just a sniper, as if that wouldn't be bad enough, but a sniper who could read your mind & knew where you were going as soon as you decided to go. Normally I am chagrinned by the end of my dreams, wishing to pursue them further, to see their tangled plots through to resolution. Not the case this time; in fact, I wish I remembered the nightmare far less vividly than I do.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Less Than Jake, "Great American Sharpshooter" from Hello Rockview (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Three points. First, the album should be titled Hello, Rockview. Second, "Great American Sharpshooter" doesn't seem to have anything to do with sharpshooting. To wit:

"Its for the better your better half's gone,
It's O.K., you didn't need her anyway,
And I don't want to hear you, 'Nobody can take her place,'
And what more can I say—you didn't need her anyway…"

Hello Rockview has the best liner notes of any album I know, hands down.

Sonntag, 6 Juli
John Philip Sousa, "Stars and Stripes Forever" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Urbi et Orbi

Today we remember Blessed Emmanuel Ruiz (1802-1860) & Companions: saint-link.

Commentary: There is no saint's feast day being celebrated today. I receive a "saint of a the day" email from the folks whose calendar of saints I am using for this project, I they brought to my attention Blessed Emmanuel Ruiz & his companions. This whole month is experimental, so I do not know if this practice will continue, or if on future non-feasts I will remark, simply, that "Today is the feast of no particular saint. God bless." Time shall tell.

Yesterday, 6 July, was the feast day of Saint Maria Goretti (1890-1902): saint-link.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The University of Michigan Marching Band, "America the Beautiful" from A Saturday Tradition (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Though this rendition of "America the Beautiful" is instrumental, I choose to quote the lyrics nevertheless.

"America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea!"

Urbi et Orbi
Today is the feast day of Saint Anthony Zaccaria (1502-1539): saint-link.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Operation AXIOM

Happy Independence Day! Two hundred thirty-eight years ago to the day, 4 July 1776, a gathering of patriots calling themselves the Second Continental Congress committed treason against the British crown by declaring the Thirteen Colonies a new & independent nation, the United States of America. Thus was formed the first democratic republic of the modern era (as opposed to the oligarchic republics of the mediæval Italian city-states). The freedom of the new United States was only won by force of arms, including the vital & seemingly contradictory aid of the most despotic monarchy in Western Christendom, the Kingdom of France, the traditional archenemy of the Kingdom of Great Britain (after 1801, the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland). We must never forget that in the last resort it is only through force of arms that America's freedom is preserved.

The United States of America is an exceptional nation, by which I mean truly exceptional, not the cynical way in which President Obama proclaimed America to be exceptional, but no more exceptional than Greece or any other nation-state, which is to say not at all exceptional. In the Eighteenth Century, & ever since, the United States has pioneered a model of popular sovereignty & the rule of law—liberal democracy—unprecedented in the history of the world. Throughout the Nineteenth Century, the United States subdued a vast continental empire that laid the groundwork for the most prosperous nation the world has ever known. Throughout the Twentieth Century, the Unites States exported liberal democracy & our free-market-based model of prosperity to a world racked by tyranny, poverty, & the misery of two World Wars. In the Twenty-first Century, despite a crisis of self-confidence, under American leadership more persons are more secure & more prosperous throughout the world entire than at any other time in history. The world is not perfect, indeed this world by its nature cannot be perfected this side of the Kingdom Come, but under the American aegis things are better than they have ever been before. The utopian temptation must be resisted at all costs, but it is part of American exceptionalism that we have successfully resisted that temptation.

Thus, my fellow Americans, celebrate! For though our freedom is under threat by enemies both foreign & domestic, this always has been so & always will be so; eternal vigilance, as the man* said, is the price of liberty. The Americans remain a free people, the Unites States remains a free nation, & what better time to celebrate that freedom than on the anniversary of our declaration of independence? The Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress, declaring the existence of the United States of America as an independent polity, two hundred thirty-eight years ago to-day. Happy Independence Day!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of Independence Day
The University of Michigan Marching Band, "The Star-Spangled Banner" from Hurrah for the Yellow and Blue (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Our national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner," was not written during the Revolutionary War (1775-1783) for independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain, but during the War of 1812 (1812-1815) to defend our independence against the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland. This itself serves as a reminder that we did not simply have to fight for our freedom once, but that we have been & shall be called upon to fight for our freedom time & again. Brave men & women fight for our freedom even now, & we all should be thankful for their service.

*There is some dispute over who that man was, though indications are that it was not, as is so often erroneously attributed, Thomas Jefferson, but rather the Irish politician & orator John Philpot Curran.

Urbi et Orbi
Today is the feast day of Saint Elizabeth of Portugal, A.K.A. Saint Elizabeth of Aragon (1271-1336): saint-link.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Urbi et Orbi

Today is the feast day of Saint Thomas the Apostle (d. A.D. 72), forever remembered as "Doubting Thomas": saint-link.

Yesterday, 2 July, was the feast day of Saint Oliver Plunkett (A.D. 1625-1681): saint-link.

Tuesday, 1 July, was the feast day of Saint Junípero Serra (A.D. 1713-1784): saint-link.

Commentary: This is an experiment. It will run to the end of the month, after which I will make an analysis & decide if I wish to continue. I commit to the end of the month in emulation of the advice I always give young men who lament their inability to grow a moustache as magnificent as mine: One has to give oneself time. The worst mistake one can make is to become discouraged & give up too soon.

Today, a clerk complimented my moustache, which happens fairly regularly, & then said that it pales in comparison to my beard. I did a double take. No one ever compliments my beard! A kinsman is always agitating for me to shave the beard, yet keep the moustache. Holy smoke! I thanked him, saying to him how rare it is for the beard to receive any respect, adding that while it is the moustache that steals the show, it is the beard from which I get the mileage, i.e., that allows me to avoid the burden of shaving. Hey, cool, win one for the good guys.

He's Dead, Jim

My father knows the key to immortality. This immortality is not the promise of eternal life made to all Christians by Our Savior nor the alchemical secrets of the Philosopher's Stone. No, friends, the key to immortality is in a special, peculiar diet promoted by a small-circulation health & wellness newsletter that speaks ill of the medical establishment. The problem is that though he possesses the key to immortality, it keeps shifting betwixt these paranoid, small-circulation newsletters.

I am occasioned to mock my father thus because he regularly lectures my mother on her poor diet, which includes poisons such as whole wheat bread, & urges her in rough, demeaning terms to follow his immortal lead. He has thrown away foods he does not wish to consume, even if those foods were purchased explicitly for the consumption of others. Yet he bristles at his new nickname, "Michael Bloomberg." Yet he continually undercuts his supposed dietary authority by radically shifting his diet every few weeks.

Just last week my father was steaming vegetables like it was going out of style. He steamed a huge pile of mixed vegetables at least once & sometimes twice a day. He groused that we were always out of apples, though this was because I was only bringing home from the green grocer as many apples as I typically eat, having never before known him to eat apples. He eschewed mustard, saying that he liked it but that it contained all sorts of harmful ingredients. Yesterday, he asked me to purchase more yellow mustard, which he has begun to consume in mass quantities. (He was too lazy or too dim to check the pantry, where a spare bottle of mustard already waited in reserve.) I looked & saw that the huge sack of apples in the refrigerator had not been touched in days. He no longer steams vegetables, in fact seems not to eat vegetables of any kind, having rededicated himself to the Atkins diet. He espouses the view that saturated fat is the key to healthy living, that the more saturated fat one ingests the better. How are we meant to regard his proclamations on diet & nutrition as Gospel truth, as he insists, when those proclamations change radically every few weeks?

Kith & Kin
This is why I wish to perish by age sixty, because the men in my family seem to go mad after their fifties. Death does not frighten me, cannot frighten anyone who trusts in the Lord, but the thought of madness makes my blood run cold.
The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Abyssinian Baptist Church Sanctuary Choir, "Battle Hymn of the Republic" from The Civil War: Original Soundtrack Recording (T.L.A.M.)


"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored,
He has loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible, swift sword,
His Truth is marching on!

"Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His Truth is marching on!…"

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Queue

Alas, matters did not much improve as I plowed through 33 Days to Morning Glory. I pray the "Hail Mary" virtually every day & rely on the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, but I have even more questions about the nature of Marian consecration than I did when I began reading the book; I think this a fair standard by which to, with regret & respect, label Father Gaitley an ineffective communicator. Alas! If you're a Protestant who hates Catholics because you think we worship Mary, this is the book for you. I found myself raising my eyebrows in confusion or alarm far more often than I found myself nodding in agreement. More prayerful pondering is needed, because right now there are still more questions than answers.

Christopher Moore, Practical Demonkeeping: A Comedy of Horrors
Christopher Moore, The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror
Father Michael E. Gaitley, 33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Marian Consecration

Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal

Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism
Matthew Kelly, Rediscover Catholicism: A Spiritual Guide to Living with Passion & Purpose
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
The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Dressy Bessy, "Just Once More" from Dressy Bessy (T.L.A.M.)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Explorers' Club, № CCCXCIX

Operation AXIOM: The World War
28 June 1914: The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria (1863-1914), heir to the crown of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, & Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg (1868-1914), his wife—the precipitating event of the First World War.

Commentary: For the next five years, we here at "The Explorers' Club" will be remembering the First World War, dedicating a minimum of one episode per month to the centenary of an event during the Great War, on or about the date it happened in 1914-1919. This may tinge "The Explorers' Club" with sepia tones of tragedy, but 'tis necessary, tis essential that we remember "the war to end all wars," lest the glorious dead died in vain, lest Western civilization again marches enthusiastically toward Tophet. As Rudyard Kipling, who lost his boy Jack to the war, wrote, "Lest we forget." Lest we forget.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Dropkick Murphys, "The Green Fields of France (No Man's Land)" from The Warrior's Code (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The Weltkrieg was not inevitable, it was nor foreordained. The men who chose to start it & the men who marched off to fight it had no idea what it would become. Why should the assassination of the Austrian imperial heir lead to Japan's seizure of Germany's colonies in the Pacific? Why should the violent aspirations of Yugoslavian nationalists lead to American doughboys dying in the mud of France? War, once commenced, takes on a life of its own, & he who thinks himself its master is a fool, & war's unwitting tool. Poison gas, strategic bombing (via both airship & aeroplane), the invention of the tank, why should any of it spun out of an assassin's bullet in Sarajevo in the summer of 1914? Because that is what we chose. We neither anticipated nor appreciated the consequences of the choices we made, but we made those fateful choices & faced their baleful consequences all the same.

"And I see by your gravestone you were only nineteen
When you joined the great fallen in Nineteen Sixteen.
Well, I hope you died quick and I hope you died clean;
Oh, Willy McBride, was it slow and obscene?

"Did they beat the drum slowly?
Did they play the fife lowly?
Did the sound the death march as they lowered you down?
Did the band play the 'Last Post' and chorus?
Did the pipes play 'The Flowers of the Forest'?

"And did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind?
In some loyal heart is your memory enshrined?
And though you died back in Nineteen Sixteen
To that loyal heart you're forever nineteen.
Or are you a stranger without even a name,
Forever enshrined behind some old glass pane,
In an old photograph torn and tattered and stained
And faded to yellow in a brown leather frame…"

Urbi et Orbi

Through the first six months of the years, I have attended Mass forty-five times. That is the same number of Masses as in all of 2012, which was itself the best year on record at the time. Though I am mindful to avoid prideful boasting, there should be no difficulty in attaining & vastly surpassing the annual quota of fifty-two Masses. I am also still on track not to miss Mass on a single Sunday, which would be a singular achievement in this wretched sinner's life. The goal I set myself at the beginning of the year was not to miss a single Sunday when not traveling, but I am tempted to modify the goal by removing the qualification. Pride?

As ever, it is not the number of Masses that is important per se, it is the greater fidelity to the Almighty that naturally flows from frequent celebration of the Eucharist.

2012: 45
2013: 63
2014: 45…

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Montag, 30 Juni
Desmond Dekker & the Aces, "Pretty Africa" from King of Ska (T.L.A.M.)

Sonntag, 29 Juni
Flogging Molly, "Grace of God Go I" from Swagger (T.L.A.M.)

Samstag, 28 Juni
The Proclaimers, "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" from Sunshine on Leith (T.L.A.M.)


"But I would walk five hundred miles,
And I would walk five hundred more
Just to be the man who walked a thousand miles
Then fall down at your door…"