Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Explorers' Club, № CDXXI

Operation AXIOM: The World War
1-13 December 1914: The Battle of Limanowa—The blunting of the Imperial Russian advance into the Austro-Hungarian Kingdom of Galicia & Lodomeria & the relief of Krakow (then usually spelt Cracow) from threat of Russian besiegement.

Lest we forget.

Bonus! Song of the Day
Osymyso, "Prepare" (bonus track) from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: Original Score Composed by Nigel Godrich (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Prepare—prepare to feel the wrath of the League of Evil Exes!"


Were today not a Sunday, specifically the First Sunday of Advent, it would have been the memorial of the Apostle Saint Andrew† (1st century), brother of Saint Peter & martyr: Apostle-link Unus, Apostle-link Duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland & the Scottish flag depicts Saint Andrew's cross in white against a blue background.

Yesterday was the memorial of Saint Brendan of Birr† (died circa 572), one of the "Twelve Apostles of Ireland" who studied under Saint Finnian of Clonard: Saint-link, Wikipedia-link, & "Apostles"-link.

Yesterday was also the memorial of Our Lady of Beauraing† (apparitions 1932-1933): Our Lady-link & Wikipedia-link.

Scriptures of the Day
Personal Readings
The Acts of the Apostles, chapters four & five.

Daily Readings/Saturday
The Book of Revelation, chapter twenty-two, verses one through seven;
Psalm Ninety-five;
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter twenty-one, verses thirty-four through thirty-six.

Daily Readings/Sunday
The Book of Isaiah, chapter sixty-three, verses sixteen (b) & seventeen, nineteen (b); chapter sixty-four, verses two through seven;
Psalm Eighty;
The First Epistle to the Corinthians, chapter one, verses three through nine;
The Gospel according to Mark, chapter thirteen, verses thirty-three through thirty-seven.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the First Sunday of Advent
The Klezmonauts, "Carol of the Bells" from Oy to the World: A Klezmer Christmas (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I like the lyrics to "Carol of the Bells," but it is this instrumental version that really sends me.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Victors

(№ 6) Ohio State 42-28 Michigan
5-7, B1G 3-5

Brady Hoke must be fired. If the valiant Wolverines had played all season long like they did today, I might not be calling for Hoke's head. As in last year's 42-41 defeat to the hated Buckeyes, we played against Ohio State with an intensity & a competence evinced in no other game. We can score twenty-eight points against Ohio State (11-1), but only ten against Northwestern (5-7)? I'm more furious at Hoke than I would be if we'd been dominated completely, say 42-7. This sorry state of affairs is not simply unacceptable, it is intolerable. Why is it that our receivers couldn't catch a pass to save their lives until today? Why is it that our offensive line is still so bad at pass protection, after playing together all fall? Why is is that Brady Hoke is incapable of developing raw high school recruits into skilled collegiate athletes? Why are so many of Devin Gardner's passes so wildly off-target?

Forgive me, right now all there is is mind-killing anguish & inarticulate fury. I made all the cogent arguments I'm capable of making in this morning's post. Brady Hoke must be fired. If possible, he must be tarred & feathered, driven to Ypsi-Arbor (pronounced "Ipsy-Arbor," the border between Ann Arbor & neighboring Ypsilanti), & tossed out of a slowly moving van. I don't want the man permanently injured, merely publicly shamed. Would it be possible to imprison him in stocks set up on the Diag? Just for a few hours after the press conference announcing his termination?

Brady Hoke must be fired. The valiant Wolverines will return to glory. Bo's immortal words are as true today as they were in 1969: "Those who stay will be champions."

Go Blue!

The Victors

Brady Hoke, head coach of the University of Michigan Wolverines football club, must be fired. Hoke must be fired because of the steady deterioration of the valiant Wolverines under his watch, & also because Hoke should never have been hired in the first place & it is well past time that mistake was rectified. "Should never have been hired in the first place"? That's right. When Hoke was hired following the 2010 season, had a career losing record as a head coach, 47-50. By contrast, when Bo Schembechler was hired after the 1968 season, he had a career winning record as a head coach, 40-17-3. Hoke had more losses than wins; Schembechler had twice as many wins as losses & ties.

But, one can argue that Hoke is a rebuilding specialist, in taking struggling programs and making them winners; so, a significant number of defeats is to be expected in those tough, early years as Hoke rebuilds (or builds for the first time) the football club. That's a fair point, but one that does not apply to the debacle that has been his tenure at Michigan, as I shall demonstrate.

2014 (because Michigan will not qualify for post-season place & thus will not extend the season into 2015 with a bowl berth*) is Coach Hoke's twelfth season as a Division 1, Football Bowl Subdivision head coach. In six seasons at Ball State & two seasons at San Diego State, Hoke accumulated the aforementioned 47-50 record (34-38 at Ball State, 13-12 at San Diego State); since coming to Michigan, Hoke has lead the valiant Wolverines to a 31-19 record, improving his career record to a winning 78-69. His tenures at Ball State & San Diego State, though not success stories over which to rave, show a pattern of steady, though unsustained improvement.

Ball State Cardinals, Mid-American Conference (M.A.C.)
2003: 4-8, M.A.C. 3-5
'04: 2-9, M.A.C. 2-6
'05: 4-7, M.A.C. 4-4
'06: 5-7, M.A.C. 5-3
'07: 7-6, M.A.C. 5-2 (first winning season)
'08: 12-1, M.A.C. 8-0
Overall: 34-38, M.A.C. 27-20

San Diego State Aztecs, Mountain West Conference (M.W.)
'09: 4-8, M.W. 2-6
'10: 9-4, M.W. 5-3
Overall: 13-12, M.W. 7-8

Michigan Wolverines, Big Ten Conference (B1G)
'11: 11-2, B1G 6-2
'12: 8-5, B1G 6-2
'13: 7-6, B1G 3-5
'14: (5-7, B1G 3-5/6-6, B1G 4-4)*
Overall: (31-20 B1G 18-14/32-19 B1G 19-13)*

I wish to draw your eye to two features of this record. With the exception of 2004, Hoke had shown year-on-year improvement prior to his arrival at Michigan. (What happened in 2004? I cannot say. Given the nature of college football, it is possible a bunch of key players from the '03 squad graduated. Such is the nature of the beast.) There is nothing spectacular in two winning seasons at Ball State following four losing seasons, but there is steady improvement.

The second feature is the 2008 season at Ball State, Hoke's most successful: 12-1, 8-0. wow! Of course, look deeper. Without that anomalous showing, Hoke's epithetless Cardinals would have had either a losing record in conference play, or a roughly .500 record. In '09, after Hoke's departure for San Diego State, the epithetless Cardinals went 2-10, M.A.C. 2-6. Well, surely that affirms Hoke's abilities, doesn't it? Absent him, the club collapsed. That is one reading, yes. Or, the stars aligned for the '08 Cardinals, they overachieved, everything went their way, & Hoke picked the perfect time to leave as every talented player in the club graduated or left, leaving the cupboard bear for Hoke's successor. We saw this at Michigan after Lloyd Carr's illustrious tenure. In '07, Carr's final season, the valiant Wolverines overcame the shocking loss to Appalachian State to finish 9-4, B1G 6-2, including a bowl victory over Urban Meyer's epithetless Gators of Florida, lead by Heisman Trophy-winner & two-time National Championship-winning quarterback Tim Tebow. (Forget about the No Fun League; in college, Tebow was a force with which to be reckoned.) In '08, the first season under Carr's ill-starred successor Rich Rodriguez, the valiant Wolverines limped to 3-9, B1G 2-6. Even the most vociferous Rich Rod critic cannot place all the blame on him; as a first-year, incoming coach, what personnel did he have to work with? I love Lloyd Carr. God bless Lloyd Carr. But he stayed too long; toward the end, he wasn't recruiting as he should have been, he wasn't securing the future of Michigan football for after his retirement. Hoke appears to have done much the same thing to his successor at Ball State. The Cardinals overachieved in '08, leaving the cupboard bare for '09.

We see a marked turnaround at San Diego State, but nothing to suggest the epithetless Aztecs were on the verge of replicating Ball State's '08 campaign. In '11, the season after Hoke left for Michigan, San Diego State finished 8-5, M.W. 4-3, almost identical to their 2010 record under Hoke. The more you stare at the numbers, the more it appears that 2008 played at outsized role in Hoke's hiring by Michigan (by the reviled & since departed athletic director Dave Brandon). Hoke didn't remain at Ball State to replicate that success. He didn't stay at San Diego State long enough to do anything impressive. There is zero evidence that Hoke has ever built a successful, sustained program. He had one outstanding year as a head football coach before arriving at the University of Michigan, & it stands out from a record of mediocrity & losing, lots more losing than winning.

At Michigan, Hoke inherited a pretty ideal situation. Rodriguez was widely reviled, but marked improvement was being shown on the field. I'm not defending Rich Rod, he had to be fired—the valiant Wolverines were utterly woeful in two out of the three phases of the game, defense & special teams, & the N.C.A.A. violations offended the Maize & Blue faithful's hard-earned & cherished sense of propriety. But his spread-option offense was started to work. It was infuriating & unconventional, but it was working. If Rodriguez had not been so utterly negligent of the defense, he might have saved himself & enjoyed the kind of success at Michigan that he is currently bringing to Arizona of the Pac-12 (a conference in which there is a gentlemen's agreement against playing competent defense): 10-2, Pac-12 7-2, & regular-season champions of the Pac-12 South, with a berth in the Pac-12 championship game. Hoke came in, made the appropriately reverent noises about the unique glorious of Michigan (we Michigan fans are not a humble lot, & flattery will get you everywhere), & promptly lead Rich Rod's players to an eleven-win season, including a victory over Ohio State (experiencing their own "perfect storm" of difficulties after Jim Tressel's resignation over blatant N.C.A.A. rules violations) & victory in the B.C.S. bowl: 11-2, B1G 6-2.

Since then, the valiant Wolverines have experienced something unprecedented under Hoke: steady decline. Hoke has a reputation as a sterling recruiter, but the more the club is composed of his own recruits & the fewer of Rich Rod's recruits, the worse Michigan becomes on the field. The '11 squad—Team 132—overachieved, winning games they probably have shouldn't, but that uncanny knack for finding a way to win is one of the hallmarks of a good football club. (A good coach finds ways for his club to overachieve consistently, to punch above their weight, until that overachievement becomes simply achievement, the new standard by which excellence is measured. That's exactly what Bo Schembechler did, he raised the bar for what constitutes success at Michigan.) Teams 133, 134, & this year's 135 do not possess that knack. Teams 134 & 135 seem to possess the winning knack's evil twin, the ability to lose to anyone, anytime, without rhyme or reason.

*The final numbers for this season depend upon the outcome of today's contest against the hated Buckeyes of THE (Ohio State University). Should the valiant Wolverines prevail, they would become bowl eligible with a regular-season record of 6-6. However, the chances of a victory are incredibly remote. Thus, the more likely scenario is that we finish 5-7, ineligible for post-season play. That would be a third consecutive year of declining performance: from 11-2, 6-2 to 8-5, 6-2 to 7-6, 3-5 to 5-7, 3-5. This is Hoke's fourth season at the helm at Michigan; his first-two recruiting classes should now be seniors & juniors, the backbone of the club playing the majority of the snaps. Yet as observed before, the more of Hoke's chosen players comprise the roster, the worse the valiant Wolverines perform on the field. The longer Hoke stays in Ann Arbor, the worse Michigan does.

Have you watched Michigan this year? It's a comedy of errors, dropped passes & missed assignments & pervasive futility. A comedy of errors, except I'm not laughing. I laugh at inappropriate moment, & usually defend my faux pas by saying that I'm only laughing so I won't cry. I've not cried over this football season, but I've been consistently, wrenchingly sad. I love Michigan, but I don't believe in the valiant Wolverines. I expect them to lose every time they take the field. (I suppose I should be happy that they've exceeded my expectations?) No, that's not right, I don't expect them to lose. They wear the Maize & Blue. They wear the winged helmet. I expect them to win, confound it! But I am unsurprised when they lose. I suppose here I'm quibbling over the various shades of meaning of the word "expect." I expect of them that they win, but in my heart of hearts I expect them to lose. I wish it were not so. But we've been in football Purgatory for seven years under Rich Rodriguez & Brady Hoke & I confess I've begun to doubt that we'll ever find our way to Heaven.

Let's get down to brass tacks: Brady Hoke must be fired. Brady Hoke must be fired because year-on-year the valiant Wolverines are worse under his leadership. Brady Hoke must be fired because his reputation as a recruiter has either been exposed as smoke & mirrors or his vaunted gifts have abandoned him, because his recruits cannot hack it in the Big Ten. Brady Hoke must be fired because he was never good enough to be Michigan's head coach in the first place. Brady Hoke must be fired because he has lead Michigan to our third losing season in the last seven years. Brady Hoke must be fired because four years is long enough to know if a coach is going to cut the mustard or not, & Brady Hoke is most definitely not. Brady Hoke must be fired.

On the other hand…
I wake up in a cold sweat at the thought that Brady Hoke will be given one more year in which to prove himself. On paper, the defense is solid, much more fearsome that it ever appears to the naked eye. The offense is terrible, but this is the first year under a new offensive coordinator, who is saddled with a bumbling disaster of a fifth-year-senior quarterback. Also, not the Michigan faithful themselves but the national sports media are now convinced that Michigan fired Rich Rod too quickly, never really gave him a chance; they are enamored of his success at Arizona (which has not yet manifested itself in a conference championship or a major bowl win, it must be noted) & this might induce the interim powers-that-be inside the Athletic Department to give Hoke one more year to right the ship (which of course he won't). This is what I fear, that will will choose the devil we know & in the process damn† ourselves. We must acknowledge the mistakes of the past & learn from them so as not to repeat them going forward. Firing Brady Hoke would not be another mistake, the man is a disaster who every day dims the prospects for Michigan's future success. He was unworthy of the job in the first place & his consistently proven himself so over the last four years. Brady Hoke must be fired.

Go Blue!

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

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

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

Freitag, 28 November
Pete Yorn, "Red Right Hand" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

†Yes, I know I'm mixing my theological metaphors. How can we be damned when we're in football Purgatory? Purgatory isn't a way station betwixt Heaven & Hell, Purgatory is the waiting room for Heaven. Being in Purgatory assures the eventuality of Heaven. Leave me alone, I'm in hysterics about the woeful state of my beloved football club.

Friday, November 28, 2014


Today is the memorial of Saint Catherine Labouré† (1806-1876), through whom was transmitted to us the Miraculous Medal: Saint-link, Wikipedia-link, & Medal-link.

Today is also the memorial of Saint James of the Marches† (circa 1391-1476), Franciscan & inquisitor: Saint-link Unus, Saint-link Duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
The Acts of the Apostles, 3;
The Book of Revelation, 20:1-4, 20:11-21:2;
Psalm 84;
The Gospel according to Luke, 21:29-33.

Commentary: I wasn't please with how the daily Mass readings were shoehorned into my morning routine yesterday. I'm going to continue, but I'll be surly & uneasy 'til I establish a daily protocol.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Today is the memorial of Saint Francesco Antonio Fasani† (1681-1742), Franciscan: Saint-link Unus, Saint-link Duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Yesterday was also the memorial of Saint John Berchmans† (1599-1621), Jesuit: Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: The earthly life of St. John Berchmans was brought to my attention by the Wikipedia. Should we see in this coincidence or the hand of Providence? The dichotomy is false.

Scriptures of the Day
The Acts of the Apostles, 2;
The Book of Revelation, 18:1-2, 21-23; 19:1-3, 9a;
Psalm 100;
The Gospel according to Luke, 21:20-28.

The Queue

Saints Behaving Badly is divided into chapters of greatly varying length, each expounding upon the sinfulness of one or another future saint, pre-repentance. I list them below for, one, my own amusement &, two, your possible edification. The saints are chronicled chronologically.
St. Matthew, Extortionist; (Wayback Machine)
St. Dismas, Thief;
St. Callixtus, Embezzler; (Wayback Machine)
St. Hippolytus, Antipope; (Wayback Machine)
St. Christopher, Servant of the Devil;
St. Pelagia, Promiscuous Actress;
St. Genesius, Scoffer;
St. Moses the Ethiopian, Cutthroat and Gang Leader;
St. Fabiola, Bigamist;
St. Augustine, Heretic and Playboy; (Wayback Machine)
St. Alipius, Obsessed with Blood Sports;
St. Patrick, Worshipper of False Gods;
St. Mary of Egypt, Seductress;
St. Columba, Warmonger;
St. Olga, Mass Murderer;
St. Vladimir, Fratricide, Rapist, and Practitioner of Human Sacrifice;
St. Olaf, Viking;
St. Thomas Becket, Hedonist;
St. Francis of Assisi, Wastrel; (Wayback Machine)
Blessed Giles of Portugal, Satanist;
St. Margaret of Cortona, Rich Man's Mistress;
Blessed Angela of Foligno, Gossip and Hedonist;
St. Ignatius of Loyola, Egotist;
St. John of God, Gambler and Drunkard;
St. Camillus de Lellis, Cardsharp and Con Man;
St. Philip Howard, Cynic and Negligent Husband;
St. Peter Claver, Dithering Novice; (Wayback Machine)
Venerable Matt Talbot, Chronic Alcoholic
The longest chapter belongs to St. Thomas Becket, weighing in at fourteen pages; Sts. Genesius & Fabiola are tied, each account spread over four pages, but really consuming only three full pages.

Edgar Rice Burroughs, Synthetic Men of Mars
Matthew Kelly, Rediscover Catholicism: A Spiritual Guide to Living with Passion & Purpose ***abandoned***
Thomas J. Craughwell, Saints Behaving Badly: The Cutthroats, Crooks, Trollops, Con Men, and Devil Worshippers Who Became Saints

Edgar Rice Burroughs, Llana of Gathol

Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Carter of Mars
Rice Broocks, God's Not Dead: Evidence for God in an Age of Uncertainty
Richard Price, Clockers
Sir Richard Francis Burton, translator, "Sinbad the Sailor" from The Arabian Nights
Sir Ernest Shackleton, South: A Memoir of the Endurance Voyage
Ted Morgan, Valley of Death: The Tragedy at Dien Bien Phu That Led America into the Vietnam War
Norman Stone, The Atlantic and Its Enemies: A Personal History of the Cold War

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 Thanksgiving
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "A Reason to Toast" from Medium Rare (T.L.A.M.)


"I'd like to open up by making a suggestion,
One that I suggest you're open to,
And then I'll open up the floor and take a question,
After that it's time to tilt a few (you and you and you).

"A reason to toast,
A reason to cheer,
A reason to celebrate:
It's nice being here!

"You might be wondering just why I called this meeting
And let another moment pass,
Before we move on, please, let's rearrange the seating,
After that it's time to raise a glass.

"I'll raise my glass up high to all the friendly faces,
Here and wherever they may be,
I don't know why I never thought 'til now to say this,
But you mean the world to me.

"A reason to toast,
A reason to cheer,
A reason to celebrate:
It's nice being here!

"Let's raise a glass up high because we're here together,
What better reason could exist?
Hey, lads, let's raise a glass, what could be better than this?
If you're without a glass, then let's see your fist!
(Get 'em up there, boys!)

"A reason to toast,
A reason to cheer,
A reason to celebrate:
It's nice being here!…"

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


I trimmed down to stubble & then shaved my beard on Friday, 7 November before I departed for Xanadu. The shave was a belated birthday present to a denizen of Xanadu, who had argued for the last four years that I should keep my magnificent moustache but shed my burly beard. The cleanshaven offering reaffirmed how terribly misguided that view is, as I always argued. I shaved again on the morning of Sunday, 9 November so as to be presentable later that day at church. The beard has been re-growing unfettered for just over a fortnight now. It had been four years since I'd seen my flabby jawline shorn of hair, so I cannot comment with much accuracy how the restoration is progressing compared to the original 2010, post Banzai Beard Bonanza II: Bonsai's Revenge growth, but I'm satisfied. My visage is not yet as it should be, but we're getting there. I am a more sanguine fellow than I was four years hence.

The oddest thing about shaving the beard is that with just the moustache I looked much older. I looked like someone's dad, someone in middle management. Shaving was a dreadful, painful experience, one I am all the more determined not to subject myself to moving forward.

I am re-growing my whiskers differently than before. Four years ago, just as in the B.B.B.II, I shaved my cheeks after realizing that the coverage afforded by the hairs there was insufficient & clashed with the rest of the beard. In the years since, I've continued to shave my cheeks, noting that allowing those hairs to grow in from scratch while the rest of the beard was already in full bloom was a recipe for disaster. I am not convinced that the cheek coverage is yet up to snuff, but this was a ripe moment to find out, when the whole edifice was starting over from square one. My beard is not yet what it should be, but it is substantial enough to have restored the basic profile of my cherished whiskers. The new profile is different, what with the cheeks. I hope the coverage will be sufficient not to need to shave them, but I'll do so if I must. I have shaved a little bit, just under my nose where the moustache hairs have always driven me crazy, & at the corners of my mouth, where the new hairs both itched like mad & dragged down the flying handlebars of my moustache. I let those hairs grow for an increasingly frustrating week & felt like a new man once they'd been felled by the razor.

The Victors | Project OSPREY
I didn't watch either of this week's tournament games, played at a neutral site in old New Amsterdam, the Barclays Center, home of the National Basketball Association's Brooklyn Nets. I was planning to watch yesterday's game, but was thwarted as not just our house but much of southeastern Michigan was subjected to a massive cable blackout (television, internet, & bundled landline telephone service), one of unprecedented scale in my experience.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014
(№ 12) Villanova 60-55 Michigan (№ 19)
4-1, B1G 0-0

Even without seeing the game, one can discern that it fell into a pattern consistent with Michigan losses under Coach Beilein: When the valiant Wolverines score eighty or more points (80+), they are undefeated. A low-scoring affair means an opposing defense has hobbled our high-flying offense, & we rarely win games on the strength of our own defense.

Monday, 24 November 2014
(№ 19) Michigan 70-63 Oregon
4-0, B1G 0-0

I am always a fan of any victory over the ancient enemy, the Pac-12.

Next: Nicholls State on Saturday, 29 November, in the friendly confines of the Crisler Center.

Go Blue!


Today is the memorial of Pope Saint Siricius† (334-399), Pontifex Maximus: Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Today is also the memorial of Saint Conrad of Constance† (circa 900-975), bishop: Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
The Acts of the Apostles, chapter one (of twenty-eight).

Commentary: Acts is the continuation of the Gospel according to Luke, the two books known collectively as Luke-Acts. After Acts, I will circle back to the Gospel according to John, stopping for a one-day intermission with one of the briefer books of the Old Testament (O.T.). After John & another sojourn into the O.T., I will begin on the Epistles of the New Testament (N.T.), the earliest-written parts of the N.T., most of them authored by Saint Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles.

I think I shall also start to read the daily readings, which are not a systematic survey of all of Sacred Scripture, but are promulgated by Holy Mother Church for the instruction & edification of all the faithful.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Robbie Williams, "A Man for All Seasons" (theme from Johnny English) via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: From "You Only Live Twice" (from the playlist "Spy") to "Millennium" (first of Williams's songs in my main library) to "A Man for All Seasons" (second after "Millennium," & which also takes us back to the playlist "Spy").

"Queen and country safe and sound
With villains six feet under ground,
And no one knows 'cause no one's found
Any trace of a man for all seasons,
Loves 'em and leaves 'em alone, so alone.
And you and I wouldn't have a clue
Who's doing what, why, when, and who,
Up a creek with no canoe,
Watch out! for the man for all seasons,
Loves 'em and leaves 'em alone, so alone,
But safe at home!…"

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Today is the memorial of Saint Catherine of Alexandria (martyred circa 305), virgin, martyred under the Emperor Maxentius, & one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers: Martyr-link & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter twenty-four (of twenty-four).

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

Commentary: Light & fluffy nothingness, sampling heavily Nancy Sinatra's "You Only Live Twice."

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Explorers' Club, № CDXX

Operation AXIOM: The World War
19 October-22 November 1914: The First Battle of Ypres—The end of the war of maneuver on the "Western Front," the beginning in earnest of trench warfare, & the all-but-complete annihilation of the British Expeditionary Force, whose few survivors became known as the "Old Contemptibles."

Commentary: The writing on the last photograph reads, "Gentlemen of India marching to chasten German hooligans."

There would be, before war's end, three Battles of Ypres, each lasting weeks or months as Germans & Belgians, French, British, & Allied colonial troops fought & died over the same patch of ground, over & over & over again.

Lest we forget.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Ballad of Candelpin Paul" from The Magic of Youth (Echo Sierra)

Commentary: Yesterday on the FaceSpace, Echo Sierra, a Michigander emigrant to the Bay State, mentioned learning to bowl candlepin-style alongside his young son, Quebec. I met Echo Sierra & his wife, Delta Kilo, through the Gal & the Guy, though I am now pleased to call myself their friend in my own right. Echo Sierra is a thoughtful & respectful debater, one of my few friends on the political Left with whom reasoned discussion is not only possible but welcome, our hectic schedules permitting. I've never had occasion to assign him a permanent code name, thus the placeholder "Echo Sierra."

Sonntag, 23 November
Nancy Sinatra, "You Only Live Twice" from Best of Bond… James Bond 50th Anniversary Collection (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The collection's title is a train wreck. First, the iconic phrase, "Bond, James Bond" (pinched from Bond's never consummated girlfriend from the first two films, Sylvia Trench, who introduces herself as "Trench, Sylvia Trench," only in response to which 007 says, "Bond, James Bond") should be written as "Bond, James Bond," not "Bond… James Bond." There is no omitted dialogue, so wherefore the ellipsis? 'Tis grammatical nonsense. Second, there really should be a colon 'twixt the second "Bond" & "50th Anniversary Collection." Else, there should be a colon instead of an ellipsis amidst "Bond… James Bond," so that the title wold read as "Best of Bond: James Bond 50th Anniversary Collection." I am punctilious. For this I shall never apologize. Never!

"You Only Live Twice" is a pretty good song,
You Only Live Twice is a mediocre novel, & You Only Live Twice is a phenomenal feature film. "You Only Live twice" is heavily sampled in Robbie Williams's "Millennium," of which I am also quite fond.


Today is the memorial of Saint Andrew Dũng-Lạc & Companions, A.K.A. the Martyrs of Vietnam (martyred 1625-1886): Martyr-link Father Andrew Unus & Martyr-link Father Andrew Duo, Wikipedia-link Father Andrew, & Martyrs of Vietnam-link & Wikipedia-link Martyrs of Vietnam.

Had yesterday, 23 November, not been the Feast of Christ the King, it would have been the memorial of Pope Saint Clement I† (1st century), first of the Apostolic Fathers: Saint-link Unus, Saint-link Duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter twenty-three.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


Today is the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King, A.K.A. the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe: Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: The Feast of Christ the King marks this as the last Sunday of the liturgical year (Year A, the Gospel according to Matthew). Next Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent, will also be the advent of a new liturgical year (Year B, the Gospel according to Mark).

Scripture of the Day
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter twenty-two.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Victors

Maryland 23-16 Michigan
5-6, B1G 3-4

Ah, the agony of defeat. One would think that after the horror show of the last seven years I'd be used to it, but each time it stings anew. There is no way that the valiant Wolverines will prevail over the hated Buckeyes in next week's rivalry game, so we will finish the season with a losing record (our third losing season in the last seven years); ineligible for a bowl game; having lost to both Rutgers & Maryland, upstarts whom I've long said that no right to join the Big Ten; & without even the Little Brown Jug to show for our efforts. Attentive readers know what comes next:

Brady Hoke must be fired.

I had the opportunity to go to the Maryland game. Late on Friday, Red Patton contact me with an offer of free tickets. He was unsure if he would be able to attend. Around 10:00 P.M., he finally confirmed that he would not be going, but stated I was free to use the tickets. I texted those I thought might be interested & even posted an open invitation on the FaceSpace. There were no takers. Hardly surprising, given the eleventh-hour nature of the invitation. I'm not sorry that I did not go, I really did not want to go alone. But given my fervent hope that this is the last game Hoke the Joke will ever coach in Michigan Stadium, it would have been nice to go once & boo him in person. There's no way Hoke can survive this, is there? I live in dread that somehow he will be allowed back for a fifth year, that a losing season; losses to B1G rookies Maryland & Rutgers; & losses to Notre Dame, Michigan State, & Ohio State won't be enough to end his reign of ineptitude. I'm willing to pay the agony of defeat as the admission price to the thrill of victory, but this price-gouging has to stop.

It is a disgrace that Devin Gardner wears № 98. It is a disgrace that Devin Funchess wears № 1.

Brady Hoke must be fired.

Saturday, 15 November 2014
5-5, B1G 3-3

A bye week is the only time the valiant Wolverines under Brady Hoke are assured not to lose.

Brady Hoke must be fired.

Northwestern 43-40 Notre Dame (№ 18) (O.T.)

There are a variety of reasons why the vile Fighting Irish lost to the plucky Wildcats, one of which is the sin of pride. Late in the game, Notre Dame went for two after a touchdown instead of kicking the extra point. Making the two-point conversion would have increased Notre Dame's lead to thirteen points; kicking the extra point, twelve pints; & missing the two-point conversion, eleven points. Northwestern then went on to score a touchdown, a two-point conversion, & a field goal: eleven points. What is the practical use of being up by thirteen points instead of twelve points? None. Both are three-score leads. There is no way to accumulate twelve points through two scores, any more than there is a way to score thirteen points, but as the plucky Wildcats demonstrated there is a way to score eleven points through two scores. The vile Fighting Irish seemed shell-shocked to find themselves in overtime time, & failed to score. The plucky Wildcats kicked a field goal & carried the day. Sweet, sweet Schadenfreude!

Saturday, 8 November 2014
Michigan 10-9 Northwestern
5-5, B1G 3-3

This debacle was pretty emblematic of the Brady Hoke era, with the valiant Wolverines struggling against the woeful plucky Wildcats & snatching victory from the jaws of defeat only because the plucky Wildcats' head coach, Pat Fitzgerald, is more bull-headed than he is egg-headed. Sure, there was no guarantee that Northwestern's point-after try would have been successful, thus tying the game & carrying on into overtime (that's why it's called a "try"), but the odds were much higher for a successful placekick than for a successful two-point conversion. That Northwestern's quarterback lost his footing & fell down untouched by a Michigan player was poetic, a perfect reminder of the perils of chancing everything on a single play.

Brady Hoke must be fired.

(№ 14) Ohio State 49-37 Michigan State (№ 8)

I was pleased by the hated Buckeyes' victory over the dastardly Spartans because the illiterate creeps in green & white had become insufferably smug. A decade ago, all they wanted to talk about was their basketball club, but now that the valiant Wolverines are their equal on the hard court all they want to talk about is the gridiron. I laughed & laughed & laughed as those couch-burning Philistines were cut down to size.

For one night only, the enemy of my enemy was my friend. Go Blue! Beat Ohio!

Saturday, 1 November 2014—Homecoming
Michigan 34-10 Indiana
4-5, B1G 2-3

The best thing to come out of Homecoming weekend was the resignation of the devil Dave Brandon, that latter-day Nero, the University of Michigan's fratricidal former Athletic Director, who waged a merciless war to alienate the alumni base & empty Michigan Stadium. "Ding-dong, the witch is dead!"

Could the valiant Wolverines have defeated the wily Hoosiers had Indiana's star quarterback not been lost for the season to injury? Probably not, but that's the way the cookie crumbles. Every club should win their Homecoming game.

Brady Hoke must be fired.

Saturday, 25 October 2014
(№ 8) Michigan State 35-11 Michigan
3-5, B1G 1-3

I didn't watch any of the Wolverine State's annual internecine brawl as I was on retreat that weekend. I stopped by the church office on Monday & as I was wearing a maize Michigan ball cap, the ladies offered me their condolences. I shrugged & said it was much like a long-expected death in the family: It hurts, but you knew it was going to happen & on some level are relieved that it finally happened—at least now it's over. This analogy was greeted favorably.

Brady Hoke must be fired.

Project OSPREY
Thursday, 20 November 2014
(№ 24) Michigan 71-62 Detroit Mercy
3-0, B1G 0-0

I didn't have the chance to watch the valiant Wolverines' victory over the epithetless Titans of U.D.M., but from what I've read the Maize & Blue had a miserable shooting night. Michigan lives by exquisite outside shooting, & dies by the lack of same. I love Coach Beilein's scheme, but there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Next: A foe from the ancient enemy, the Pac-12, the epithetless Ducks of Oregon, on a neutral court in N.Y.C.—the hipster paradise of Brooklyn to be precise—on Monday evening. The valiant Wolverines will then face either Villanova or V.C.U. at that same venue in Brooklyn.

Go Blue!


Today is the memorial of Saint Cecilia (2nd century), martyr & patroness of musicians: Martyr-link Unus, Martyr-link Duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: In the choir, we conclude our prayers before practices & Masses by requesting the intercessory prayers of Saint Cecilia.

Scripture of the Day
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter twenty-one.

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

Commentary: Yesterday, at St. Matt's, Mass opened with "Sing of Mary" & closed with "Immaculate Mary." Timely & beautiful music.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Fountains of Wayne, "Janice's Party" from Out-of-State Plates (T.L.A.M.)


Today is the feast of Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (at the Temple in Jerusalem): Virgin-link Unus, Virgin-link Duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter twenty.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Today is the memorial of Saint Bernward of Hildesheim† (960-1022), bishop: Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
The Gospel according to Luke, chapters eighteen & nineteen. (Yesterday did not go at all to plan & one thing after another continually preempted my Bible reading.)
The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Lenka, "Trouble Is a Friend" from Lenka (T.L.A.M.)


"He's there in the dark,
He's there in my heart,
He waits in the wings,
He's gotta play a part,
Trouble is a friend, yeah,
Trouble is a friend of mine.

"Trouble is a friend,
But Trouble is a foe, oh oh,
And now matter what I feed him
He always seems to grow, oh oh.
He sees what I see
And he knows what I know, oh oh…"

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Today is the memorial of Saint Raphael of Saint Joseph Kalinowski† (1835-1907): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Look, Mrs. Brother Nacho, a completely uncontroversial Polish saint! Wow!

Also, today's saint was born Józef Kalinowski. He was given the name Raphael of Saint Joseph when he joined the Discalced Carmelites. The Lord changed Abram's name to Abraham & Sarai's to Sarah, Simon's to Peter & Saul's to Paul, so the changing of one's name to reflect one's fealty to the Way, the Truth, & the Life has an unimpeachable pedigree.

Scripture of the Day
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter eighteen.

Operation AXIOM

One hundred forty-nine years ago to the day, 19 November 1963, Abraham Lincoln delivered the remarks we have come to known & revere as the "Gettysburg Address" at the Consecration of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg. The seminal Battle of Gettysburg, the largest battle ever fought in the Western Hemisphere, had raged four months earlier, 1-3 July 1863. The immortality of Lincoln's brief words, compared to the obscurity into which has fallen the two-hour address of the Consecration's keynote speaker, former Secretary of State Edward Everett, reaffirms the Bard's observation that "brevity s the soul of wit." The Gettysburg Address was delivered one hundred forty-nine years ago to-day.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Commentary: A pox on Steven Spielberg! Whenever I read Lincoln's oratory, I hear the voice of Daniel Day Lewis.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
John Williams, "The Battle in the Snow" from Star Wars: Episode V—The Empire Strikes Back (T.L.A.M.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Today is the feast of the Dedication of the Basilicas of Saints Peter & Paul: Basilicas-link Unus & Basilicas-link Duo, Wikipedia-link St. Peter's & Wikipedia-link St. Paul's Outside the Walls.

Commentary: Since Saint Peter (Simon the fisherman) & Saint Paul (Saul of Tarsus) share a single solemnity, why shouldn't their basilicas? Though it is a tad odd, since theirs are two of only four major basilicas in existence, the remainder (& vast majority) being minor basilicas. But, hey, I'm sure there are a goodly many reasons of which I am unaware, not the least of which is the paired saints' standing as the twin pillars of the earliest Church.

Today is also the memorial of Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne (1769-1852): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter seventeen.
The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Meaghan Smith, "It Snowed" via iTunes, Holiday Sampler (T.L.A.M.)


"It snowed, it snowed, it snowed last night!
Everything is sparkling with diamond light…

"It snowed, it snowed, it snowed last night!
Get your hat and coat and bundle up real tight.
Hitch up that sled and we'll take a ride,
Everybody's happy 'cause it snowed last night…"

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Victors | Project OSPREY

(№ 24) Michigan 77-53 Bucknell
2-0, B1G 0-0

The valiant Wolverines play such beautiful basketball! I invite anyone who calls soccer (association football) "the beautiful game" to watch basketball as coached by John Beilein, basketball as it should be played, & then struggle to summon arguments in favor of soccer. The valiant Wolverines look set to be dependent on the perimeter game, because they are young—so very young on the inside, but 'tis only November & these conqu'ring heroes will develop by leaps & bounds by March & the coming of the Madness.

The heart of collegiate athletics is valiant Wolverine junior guard "Spike" Albrecht diving to the floor to prevent the ball from going out of bounds with 2:05 left in a twenty-two-point game. Shades of Zack Novak & the "Aneurysm of Leadership," anyone?

Go Blue!


Today is the memorial of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-1231): Saint-link Unus, Saint-link Duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter sixteen.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Graham B.L.V.D., "Snoopy vs. the Red Baron" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Snoopy vs. the Red Baron" in the least melancholy song about the Great War with which I am familiar. I normally prefer a much faster, punk-influenced rendition by The Staggers, but today this jauntier version appeals to me.

"After the turn of the century,
In the clear blue skies over Germany,
Came a roaring and the thunder they had never heard,
Like the screaming sound of a big war bird.

"Up in the sky, a man in a plane,
Baron von Richthofen was his name.
Eighty men tried and eighty men died,
Now they're buried together in the countryside.

"Ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, or more!
The bloody Red Baron was running up the score!
Eighty men died trying to end that spree,
Of the bloody Red Baron of Germany…"

Side note: Kim Newman's
Anno Dracula novel The Bloody Red Baron is, like all the others in the series, brilliantly titled, meticulously constructed, & altogether disappointing.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Explorers' Club, № CDXIX

Operation AXIOM: The World War
3-5 November 1914: The Battles of Tanga & Kilimanjaro—the defeat & repulsion of a vastly numerically superior British invasion of German East Africa (Deutsch-Ostafrika, today: mainland Tanzania, Rwanda, & Burundi).

Lest we forget.

Operation AXIOM
I have been remiss. So focused have I been on the centenary of the Great War that I've neglected a pair of anniversaries of later twentieth century history.

Twenty-five years ago last Sunday, 9 November 1989, the Berlin Wall fell when the tottering East German regime announced freedom of movement betwixt East Germany (the ironically named German Democratic Republic, D.D.R.) & West Germany (the Federal Republic of Germany, B.R.D.), & betwixt East & West Berlin. First, the gates & checkpoints were opened; then, Berliners both Wessie & Ossie began dancing atop the "Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart" (the Wall's formal name in D.D.R. Newspeak); & at last, sections of that monumental crime against human dignity began to fall, literally. I was ten years old when the Berlin Wall fell. I'd never considered whether or not Communism in Europe might end or endure forever, it had just always been; & then it was no more, almost overnight. Whatever the dangers of the world today, they do not look half so frightful once viewed through the lens of the three globetrotting conflicts of the twentieth century—the First World War, the Second World War, & the Cold War. We have defeated evil before, & we shall defeat evil again. Take heart, remember that the Berlin Wall fell twenty-five years ago last week.

Thirty-nine years ago last Monday, 10 November 1975, the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald was lost in Lake Superior with twenty-nine souls aboard. The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald would be all but forgotten today if not for Gordon Lightfoot's latter-day shanty "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," proof that popular culture need not always be frivolous. The Edmund Fitzgerald sank, thirty-nine years ago last week.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Gordon Lightfoot, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" via iTunes (Animal)

Commentary: Animal, brother of the Blonde & boon companion of Red Patton, made mention of the anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald on the FaceSpace. He's a history major, so good on him. At the time I was consumed with preparations of The Secret Base's annual commemoration of Armistice Day; I am grateful to Animal for picking up the slack. Animal's code name is a reference to the Muppet of the same name, the wild drummer for Doctor Teeth & the Electric Mayhem.

The Queue
I have abandoned Matthew Kelly's book Rediscover Catholicism; 'twas not bringing me closer to God, 'twas not helping me rediscover Catholicism. Mr. Kelly is reputed to be a brilliant speaker, but his writing leaves much to be desired. Maybe this would have been a useful book for me at an earlier stage in my spiritual awakening, but I rather suspect not. This life is too fleeting to read bad books. "Bad"? A tad harsh, you say? Harsh but fair, I rejoin. There was no joy in slogging through Rediscover Catholicism, whereas I have found my ongoing rediscovery of Catholicism to be a source of superlative, boundless joy.

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 ***abandoned***

Thomas J. Craughwell, Saints Behaving Badly: The Cutthroats, Crooks, Trollops, Con Men, and Devil Worshippers Who Became Saints

Edgar Rice Burroughs, Llana of Gathol
Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Carter of Mars
Rice Broocks, God's Not Dead: Evidence for God in an Age of Uncertainty
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
Ted Morgan, Valley of Death: The Tragedy at Dien Bien Phu That Led America into the Vietnam War
Norman Stone, The Atlantic and Its Enemies: A Personal History of the Cold War

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


Were today not a Sunday, the Lord's day, it would have been the memorial of Saint Margaret of Scotland† (circa 1045-1093): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter fifteen.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "Everybody's Better" from A Jackknife to a Swan (T.L.A.M.)


"Everybody's better than I am,
I think everybody's better than me,
And everybody's swell, I guess,
They're doing well, more or less,
And everybody's better than I am…"


Today is the memorial of Saint Albert the Great (circa 1200-1280, A.K.A. Albertus Magnus), bishop & Doctor of the Church, teacher of Saint Thomas Aquinas: Doctor-link & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
The Gospel according to Luke, chapters thirteen & fourteen. (I did not complete any of yesterday's reading yesterday, but completed both yesterday's & today's prior to the publication of this post.)
The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Freitag, 14 November
The Proclaimers, "Wages of Sin" from Notes & Rhymes (T.L.A.M.)


"I've led an average life,
I've told the truth and I have lied,
But I need a few more years
To build up the credit side.

"So I hope (hope, hope, hope and pray),
And I pray (hope, hope, hope and pray),
That the wages of sin aren't paid today…"

Friday, November 14, 2014


Today is the memorial of Saint Laurence O'Toole† (1128-1180, A.K.A. Lorcán Ua Tuathail), bishop & martyr: Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Today is the memorial of Saint Nicholas Tavelic & Companions† (martyred 1391, A.K.A. Nikola Tavelić), martyrs: Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: The protocol for determining which martyr is to be remembered by name & which are to to memorialized communally as "companions" is unknown to your humble narrator.

Scripture of the Day
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter thirteen.
The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Donnerstag, 13 November
Walk the Moon, "Shut Up & Dance" via iTunes, (free) Single of the Week (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: It is a well known fact that I am an incredible dancer. Reports of my feats on the dance floor are not credible—yet true! In the words of The Aquabats!, "You are the legend and the legend is true!" "Shut Up & Dance" is a bubble-gum dance song I discovered yesterday, Eighties-inspired fun.

"She took my arm,
I don't know how it happened,
We took the floor and she said—

"'Oh, don't you dare look back,
Just keep your eyes on me.'
I said, 'You're holding back.'
She said, 'Shut up and dance with me!'
This woman is my destiny!
She said, 'Wooo, shut up and dance with me!'…

"Deep in her eyes,
I think I see a future,
I realize this is my last chance!
She took my arm…"

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Today is the memorial of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini (1850-1917), Mother Cabrini, patroness of immigrants & hospital administrators: Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Today is also the memorial of Saint Brice of Tours† (circa 370-444): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: What caught my eye about Saint Brice is his model of repentance of one's wicked ways & amendment of one's wayward life. His link to Saint Martin is just gravy.

Scripture of the Day
The Gospel according to Luke, chapters eleven & twelve (because I did not finish all of yesterday's reading).

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Today is the memorial of Saint Josaphat (circa 1580-1623), bishop, martyred attempting to heal the schism 'twixt Western & Eastern Christianity: Martyr-link Unus, Martyr-link Duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter eleven.

He's Dead, Jim

I love visiting Where's Teddy? & the Cupcake at Xanadu, but once, just once, I'd like to return from Xanadu having not caught one of the myriad mild variations of the dreadful sick known as the "sniffles." When there is a scratch in the back of my throat, water is like liquid sandpaper & I crave the downy softness of carbonation, which I otherwise avoid except for my daily morning Red Bull & occasional, social indulgence in soda pop.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The B-52s, "Rock Lobster" from the Rhino Hi-Five: The B-52s E.P. (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I wanted to credit the choice of today's R.B.D.S.O.T.D. to Where's Teddy?, who really does like to look at the lobsters in the tank at the grocery store, but "Rock Lobster" had actually come up in conversation the previous day, during a discussion of Hallowe'en party songs. Hallowe'en is big, big deal at Xanadu.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Today is the memorial of Saint Martin of Tours (316-397), bishop & conscientious objector: Saint-link Unus, Saint-link Duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter ten.

Armistice Day

"Armistice Day has become Veterans' Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans' Day is not."
—Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Breakfast of Champions

A decade & a half of war in Iraq & Afghanistan has changed Americans' appreciation of Veterans' Day, has deepened our public regard for all three divisions of the brotherhood of arms—the soldiers who defend us still, the veterans who in their time stood watch, & the glorious dead who gave the last full measure of devotion. In this second decade of the twenty-first century America's observance of Veterans' Day is not sacred, but neither it is sacrilegious.

I am weary, bone-tired of the nobility & the folly of the summer & fall of 1914. I am living with the Great War as never before, commemorating its centenaries through "The Explorers' Club." I am fatigued. Yet I dare not fail to remember them, those lads—brave & craven, idealistic & fatalistic, German & French & Russian & loyal to empires proud & strong that disintegrated before their bodies were cold in their graves—who died not in vain in 1914-1918. A century on we in the West have embraced a myth, have ensconced ourselves in a nihilistic fiction that it all meant nothing, that 'twas all folly & no nobility. But the men who fought, those who lived to see peace & careers & families & the greater war that followed, they knew for what they had fought, for what their friends had died. I dare not flag, dare not fail to keep faith with our fathers. They were not golden, brilliant men of a golden, brilliant age. They were as human as you or I. They made mistakes & they pulled of incredible coups; they were generous & they were petty. They did not operate with our smug, fatally flawed assurance that hindsight has made us wise. We dare not forget them because they were the same as we are now, because their fate can be ours unless hindsight leads to wisdom, unless we learn from their mistakes just as our posterity must learn from ours. I am weary, but remain devoted & undaunted.

Remembrance Day in the United Kingdom: Remembrance Sunday-link, & a temporary art installation titled Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red: Tower-link.

"Dulce et Decorum est" was, alongside "In Flanders Fields," one of the two poems selected for our annual Armistice Day exploration of the poetry of the Great War. I mean to honor a great variety of poets (all of them writers of the English language, due to my monoglot nature), yet repeat "Dulce et Decorum est" due to its prominence & enduring urgency. As the arch-traitor General Lee is reputed to have remarked half a century before the Marne, & Verdun, & Ypres over & over & over again, "It is well that war is so terrible, or we would grow too fond of it." I keep a framed copy of "Dulce et Decorum est" in my bedroom—I have for years—as an antidote to mine own tendency to romanticize war.

"Dulce et Decorum est"
by Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)†

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori

"How to Die"
by Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967)

Dark clouds are smouldering into red
While down the craters morning burns.
The dying soldier shifts his head
To watch the glory that returns;
He lifts his fingers toward the skies
Where holy brightness breaks in flame;
Radiance reflected in his eyes,
And on his lips a whispered name.

You'd think, to hear some people talk,
That lads go West with sobs and curses,
And sullen faces white as chalk,
Hankering for wreaths and tombs and hearses.
But they've been taught the way to do it
Like Christian soldiers; not with haste
And shuddering groans; but passing through it
With due regard for decent taste.

†Lieutenant Owen did not survive the War, perishing in combat on 4 November 1918, one week shy of the Armistice.

Wayback Machine: Lest We Forget
I believe this in my bones, all the way down to the quick: we will damn ourselves to the trenches & the gas & the barbed wire should ever we forget the trenches & the gas & the barbed wire. I live in dread, not continually before mine eyes but always rattling around the back of my mind, a ghost in my machine. Truly, truly, truly, "lest we forget."

Armistice Day '13 | Armistice Day '12

Armistice Day '11 | Armistice Day '10

Armistice Day '09 | Armistice Day '08

Armistice Day '07 | Armistice Day '06

Armistice Day '05 | Armistice Day '04

Armistice Day '03 | Armistice Day '02

The Rebel Black Dot Song of Armistice Day
Eric Bogle, "The Band Played 'Waltzing Matilda'" courtesy The Watergirl (T.L.A.M.)

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Explorers' Club, № CDXVIII

Operation AXIOM: The World War
31 October-7 November 1914: The Siege of Tsingtao (blockaded from 27 August)—the Anglo-Japanese conquest of Germany's concession in China & last remaining Pacific colonial possession, which included amongst innumerable other heroics the first air-to-air victory in aviation history.

Commentary: Though the map purports to show the theater of the Sino-Japanese War, which took place twenty years before the Great War, this illustration does the best job of those considered in showing the location of Tsingtao (today, Qingdao) & thus placing the siege in context.

Lest we forget.


Today is the memorial of Pope Saint Leo the Great (circa 400-461), Pope Saint Leo I, pontiff & Doctor of the Church: Great-link Unus, Great-link Duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Why do I refer to Saint Leo as "the Great" when I deign to address Saint John Paul II only by his number, when many call him Saint John Paul the Great? Fifteen hundred years of Church history confirm Saint Leo the Great's greatness. Saint John Paul II has been departed to his heavenly repose not yet ten years. Great he was in this life & "the Great" he might yet prove, but time enough has not yet passed to make such an assessment; we are still too close to the matter, too emotionally invested.

Saint Leo the Great, pray for us.

Scripture of the Day
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter nine.


The Lumi suffered a fairly catastrophic mechanical failure last night, necessitating a tow home. I was uninjured. She is presently incapable of self-propulsion. She might not have given up the ghost & plans are in the works to see if she might be resurrected. I am thankful that the Lord permitted me to return home safely from Xanadu in Ohio before the collapse.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
They Might be Giants, "Kiss Me, Son of God" from Then: The Earlier Years (The Cupcake)

Commentary: I cannot recall precisely what the Cupcake, now an adorable two year-old, did or said, but it prompted both your humble narrator & her father to think of "Kiss Me, Son of God."

"I build a little empire out of
Some crazy garbage called
The blood of the exploited working class,
But, they've overcome their shyness,
Now they're calling me 'Your Highness,'
Then the world screams, 'Kiss me, Son of God!'

"I destroyed the bond of friendship and respect
Between the only people left
Who'd even look me in the eye.
Now, I laugh and make a fortune
Off the same ones that I tortured,
And the world screams, "Kiss me, Son of God!'…"

Sunday, November 9, 2014


Today is the feast of the Dedication of the Papal Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran: Cathedral-link Eins, Cathedral-link Zwei, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: For all the magnificence of Saint Peter's Basilica, it is not the seat of the Pope's apostolic authority. The pontiff derives his authority from being Bishop of Rome, primus inter pares amongst all bishops, & Saint John Lateran is the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome. (The English word "cathedral" comes through French & Latin from the Greek kathedra, meaning "seat." A cathedral is thus a bishop's seat.)

Scripture of the Day
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter eight.
The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Aloe Blacc, "Lift Your Spirit" via iTunes, (free) Single of the Week (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, November 8, 2014


Today is the memorial of Blessed John Duns Scotus† (circa 1266-1308), usually called simply Duns Scotus, the "Subtle Doctor:" Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: There are fully canonized saints I could have chosen to highlight today, but for several years I have been drawn to the "merely" beatified Duns Scotus. He was declared venerable in 1991 & beatified in 1993; his full canonization is surely only a matter of time. Note to self: Pray for such an occurrence, if such be God's will.

Scripture of the Day
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter seven.
The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Phillip Phillips, "Home" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Home" is catchy, confound it! Plus, it does contain a wee bit of wisdom, which contains theological truth, even if here it might be meant only metaphorically:

"Don't pay no mind to the demons,
They fill you with fear…"

Friday, November 7, 2014


Today is the memorial of Saint Didacus of Alcalᆠ(1400-1463), A.K.A. Saint Diego: Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Apparently, today is Saint Didacus's feast day in the Unites States only in his own Franciscan Order & in the Diocese of San Diego, his namesake. In the rest of the country, his feast is 13 November. I of course intend no disobedience to the bishops, most especially my own, the Most Reverend Earl Boyea, & I trust that the Lord will correct me as He sees fit if my intentions are not as pure as I believe them to be.

Scripture of the Day
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter six.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
TobyMac, "Speak Life" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)


"Lift your head a little bit higher,
Spread the love like fire,
Hope will fall like rain
When you speak life with the words you say.
Raise your thoughts a little higher,
Use your words to inspire,
Joy will fall like rain
When you speak life with the things you say…"

The Book of Sirach (A.K.A. Ecclesiasticus, or the Wisdom of Ben Sura), chapter fifteen, verse seventeen (Sirach, 15:17):

"Before man are life and death,
whichever he chooses shall be given him."

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Explorers' Club, № CDXVII

Salisbury Cathedral, around which was build up the city of New Sarum (better know today as Salisbury), & home to both an original copy of the Magna Carta & the world's oldest functional clock.

Bonus! The Wikipedia's featured article of the day is First World War spy Carl Hans Lody, executed for espionage one hundred years ago to-day: Lody-link.

Liberty & Union
I am pleased by the reelection of Governors Rick Snyder (R., Michigan), Rick Scott (R., Florida), & Scott Walker (R., Wisconsin); the returned Republican majority in the United States House of Representatives; & the incoming Republican majority in the United States Senate. That said, President Obama, armed with his flagrant disregard for the checks & balances enshrined in the United States Constitution, remains a dangerous political foe; he may be more unpredictable now that he is politically isolated & his pride is wounded from the electorate's stinging rebuke. So, I caution my fellow Republicans & affiliated right-wingers against the triumphalism to which we have succumbed before. I warn us against overplaying our hand & thus playing into the hands of the Democrats. Remember always the words of Rudyard Kipling, from "If—":
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster,
and treat those two impostors just the same;…


Today is the memorial of Saint Paul of Constantinople† (martyred circa 350), martyred by the Arian heretics: Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: For more on the context of Saint Paul's life & martyrdom, consult "The Explorers' Club's" three-part series on the Arian Heresy: Wayback Machine, Part I; Wayback Machine, Part II; & Wayback Machine, Part III.

Scripture of the Day
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter five.
The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "You Gotta Go!" from A Jackknife to a Swan (Brother Nacho)

Commentary: I do not recall why the subject of an unwanted guest staying on one's couch came up in conversation Tuesday, but the Bosstones were at the ready with the perfect tune.

"It's nearly near a year and you're still here…

"I've had it! I just can't take no more!
You need to wake up and get your drunk ass off the floor!
You lost my cat and broke my T.V.,
I can't use the couch 'til well past 3:00,
So bag your bags, 'cause there's the door!…"

Mittwoch, 5 November
Green Day, "Nice Guys Finish Last" from Nimrod (T.L.A.M.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Today is the memorial of Saint Elizabeth & Saint Zechariah† (1st century B.C.-1st century A.D.), the parents of Saint John the Baptist: Saint-link Echo & Wikipedia-link Echo, Saint-link Zulu & Wikipedia-link Zulu.

Commentary: As part of my ongoing discernment, this week I acquired parish bulletins from St. John Vianney & St. Matthew's, both in downtown Flint. Holy Redeemer's bulletin is silent about a saint of the day for today; the other two bulletins each commemorate a different saint. I've chosen Sts. Elizabeth & Zechariach from the list of those saints remembered today because this very week I've read Saint Luke's account of the Baptist's conception & birth (chapter one).

Scripture of the Day
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter four.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Today is the memorial of Saint Charles Borromeo (1538-1584), bishop & founder of the Ambrosians, formally the Oblates of St. Ambrose & of St. Charles: Saint-link Eins, Saint-link Zwei, & Wikipedia-link; Order-link.

Scripture of the Day
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter three.

Liberty & Union

I worked the phones for the Michigan Republican Party in the 2012 election cycle, believing then as I still do to-day that Governor Romney was the better man to be president of these United States. I have not been similarly involved in the 2014 cycle for two reasons: First, I simply do not have the time; almost all the time I could have dedicated to politics is not spent on the church campus involved in myriad ministries & projects. Second, I have been unable to summon much if any enthusiasm for the re-election of Governor Rick Snyder & the election of former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land to the Senate. Mr. Snyder is the better candidate for the state top executive, & I shall vote for his re-election, but I oppose his financially unsustainable expansion of Medicaid in collaboration with the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare); he will get my vote in part because his Democratic* challenger, former Congressman Mark Schauer, voted for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) whilst serving his single term in the U.S. House of Representatives. In the Senate race, I have been disappointed by Secretary Land's refusal to debate the Democratic nominee to the open seat, Representative Gary Peters, who also voted for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). This was Michigan's best chance in twenty years to elect a Republican senator & Land has fumbled & stumbled time & again.

Is it wrong to vote against these men principally because they voted to strip me of the health insurance I liked & that President Obama repeatedly promised I could keep (the "Lie of the Year" for 2013, remember)? I think not. After all, Mr. Obama has said that his policies are on the ballot this year, even though he is not. Therefore, in this president's own view, a vote for Messers. Schauer & Peters is a vote to cancel my health insurance despite repeated promises not to do so; a vote for unprecedented deficits (much larger than the deficits Candidate Obama called "unpatriotic" in '08); a vote to negotiate in bad faith as an excuse to withdraw all American troops from Iraq; a vote to allow Russia to dictate the course of events in Eastern Europe & China to grow ever more hegemonic in the Pacific; a vote to codify in international agreements Iran's "right" to enrichment of uranium & flaunt their Nonproliferation Treaty obligations; a vote to rewrite acts of Congress by executive fiat; a vote to allocate federal revenues to fund abortion, despite the continued prohibition of such funding by the U.S. Code; a vote to make illegal non-recess recess appointments to various executive posts; a vote to wield the I.R.S. as a weapon against political opponents; & a vote for a thousand thousand other usurpations, abuses, & banal acts of tyranny.

This is my last chance to vote against Mr. Obama's parade of horrors & I shall do so with a certain amount of relish.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of Election Day
Green Day, "American Idiot" from American Idiot (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: As ever, a song's selection as the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. should not be construed as agreement with/endorsement of the political philosophy articulated in that song, i.e., the opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect those of the management.

*Most of my fellow Republicans would have written "Democrat challenger," refusing to use the proper adjective "Democratic." I have always found that ungrammatical tick irksome.

Monday, November 3, 2014


Today is the memorial of Saint Martin de Porres (1579-1639): Saint-link Eins, Saint-link Zwei, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Growing up in the post-Vatican II Church of the 1980s & '90s, & in a household with one parent an unchurched nominal Presbyterian/borderline atheist, I knew nothing of God's saints. The first mention I can recall of Saint Martin de Porres was in the motion picture The Saint, the iconically '90s film based on Leslie Charteris's gentleman thief Simon Templar.

Scripture of the Day
The Gospel according to Luke, chapters one & two (because I did not finish yesterday yesterday's daily reading, Luke, chapter one).

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Needtobreathe, "Ooh's and Ahh's" from The Song Album: Music from the Motion Picture (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Where to begin? First, the song should be titled "Oohs and Ahhs," since context makes clear that the oohs & ahhs are plural, not possessive. Second, the name Needtobreathe is wicked obnoxious. The band themselves style it as NEEDTOBREATHE, which puts me in a vaguely homicidal frame of mind. I am doing them a tremendous courtesy by not rendering their name as "Need to Breathe." Jackasses!

All that said, "Ooh's and Ahh's" is an interesting song about the emptiness of fame.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Explorers' Club, № CDXVI

Operation AXIOM: The World War
1 November 1914: The Battle of Coronel—the defeat of a British Royal Navy squadron by the German East Asia Squadron off the coast of Chile; British casualties: over fifteen hundred souls lost & two ships sunk, H.M.S. Monmouth & H.M.S. Good Hope; German casualties: three wounded.

Lest we forget.


Today is the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed, A.K.A. All Souls' Day: Souls-link Eins, Souls-link Zwei, & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter one (of twenty-four).

The Rebel Black Dot Song of All Souls' Day
Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, "El Matador" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, November 1, 2014


Today is the Solemnity of All Saints, A.K.A. All Saints' Day or Hallowmas: Saints-link Eins, Saints-link Zwei, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: All Saints' 'tis a holy day of obligation. Get thyself to Mass!

Scripture of the Day
The Book of Habakkuk.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of All Saints' Day
The O.C. Supertones, "Perseverance of the Saints" from Supertones Strike Back (T.L.A.M.)