Saturday, December 31, 2016

Bonus! Song of New Year's Eve

Betty Wand, Hermione Gingold, Leslie Caron, & Louis Jordan, "The Night They Invented Champagne" via iTunes (from Gigi: Music from the Original Motion Picture) (The Last Tipsy Man)

Project BLACK MAMBA: Octave of the Nativity

'Tis the Optional Memorial of Saint Sylvester I, Pope (died 335), thirty-third Bishop of Rome: Saint-link ūnus, Saint-link duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine. Quoth the Holy Redeemer bulletin:
He became pope in the era of Constantine the Great, when the public position of the Church so greatly improved, it is consequently to be regretted that there is so little authoritative information concerning Sylvester's pontificate.
'Tis also the feast of Saint John Francis Regis, Priest, S.J. (1597-1640): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: From the good old days on the collegiate debate circuit, I'm pals with a professor & several alumni from Regis University in Denver, named in the the saint's honor. Alas, Regis is one of those "Catholic" universities that has been seduced by worldly honors & prestige (Jesuit institutions have proved especially vulnerable to this seduction), turning its back on Christ & His Church, regarding the "Land o' Lakes Statement" as being more authoritative than Ex Corde Ecclesiae. St. Regis deserves better from his namesake; St. Regis, pray for your namesake!

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings
The First Letter of John, chapter two, verses eighteen thru twenty-one;
Psalm Ninety-six, verses one, two, eleven, twelve, & thirteen;
The Gospel according to John, chapter one, verses one thru eighteen.

Also, here is a brief article from the National Catholic Register explaining the beauty of celebrating the entire Christmastide, of not succumbing to the secular, commercialized silliness that pretends Christmas is over on 26 December: Six Days within Christmas-link.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of New Year's Eve


Sufjan Stevens, "Auld Lang Syne" from Silver & Gold (The Last Auld Man)

Commentary: I know many shall say "Good riddance!" to the Year of Our Lord 2016, but let us not pretend it was all bad. Think upon your days—was there no joy to be found? Was there no company of kith & kin to enjoy? Where there no arts to appreciate? No food & drink to satisfy? As we welcome the Year of Our Lord 2017, let us look back in clear-eyed gratitude for what yesterday has given us & look forward in adamant determination to an even better tomorrow.
"Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And days of auld lang syne?

"For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne!
We'll take a cup of kindness yet
For auld lang syne."

The Victors: Orange Bowl Aftermath

(№ 11) Florida State 33-32 Michigan (№ 6)
10-3, B1G 7-2

I've said it before & I live in genuine dread that I'll have to say it again, but Michigan will never win another game with Wilton Speight as our starting quarterback. He played horribly in the first three quarters, missing open receiver after open receiver, so that by the time we mounted a comeback, it was too high a mountain to climb.

We lost three out of our last four games, to end 2016 as total failures. We lost all three games in which we wore those stupid white pants. Real men wear yellow pants!

Go Blue!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the 4th Day of Christmas


Sarah McLachlan, "Silent Night" via iTunes, (free) Holiday Sampler (The Last Jolly Man)

Commentary:
"Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds quake at the sight,
Glories stream from heaven above,
Heavenly hosts sing 'Alleluia!
'Christ the Savior is born!
'Christ the Savior is born!'…"

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the 3rd Day of Christmas

David Archuleta, "Joy to the World" via iTunes, (free) Single of the Week (The Last Jolly Man)

Commentary: The music of this rendition of "Joy to the World" is pop schlock, but the the words are majestic & beautiful & Archuleta is an able singer.
"Joy to the world,
The Lord is come!
Let Earth receive her king,
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing.

"Joy to the world,
The Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ,
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy…

"He rules the world
With truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love…"

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the 2nd Day of Christmas

The Irish Rovers, "Good King Wenceslas" via iTunes (from An Irish Christmas) (The Last Jolly Man)

Commentary: 26 December is not the feast of Saint Wenceslas (that's on 28 September, when the weather is usually balmy), 'tis the feast of Saint Stephen the Protomartyr. So why is "Good King Wenceslas" traditionally chosen as the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. on the second day of Christmas? So glad you asked!
"Good king Wenceslas looked out on the feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay all about deep and crisp and even…"
But that's not all. "Good King Wenceslas" is a beautiful carol for this blessed time of year due to the message it imparts to all who have ears to hear.
"…Therefore Christian men be sure, wealth or rank possessing,
He who now will bless the poor shall yourselves find blessing!"
If you are reading these words, you have access to electricity & an incredible machine, a tool unimaginable to your grandparents in their youth. Ponder the many ways in which you have been blessed, both materially & spiritually, & consider how you might aid those you are poorer than you.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Explorers' Club, № DXXIX

Operation AXIOM: The World War
23-29 December 1916: The Christmas Battles—Imperial Russian infantry used surprise & the cover of a snowstorm to attack across the frozen Tīrelis swamp & breach the "German Wall" defensive line near Riga, seizing the Germans' strongest fortifications & taking over 1,000 prisoners; the offensive stalled when the 17th Siberian Regiment mutinied, presaging the coming February Revolution.




Commentary: Two years hence, In "The Explorers' Club" episode № CDXXIV, I described the "Christmas truce" of 1914 as "impromptu, unofficial, sporadic, & quite possibly the most fondly remembered episode of the whole awful war." It has been mythologized, possibly to an unhealthy degree. As a counterpoint, whenever you hear mention of the Christmas truce of 1914, remember the Christmas Battles of 1916: the Russians deliberately attacked at Christmas, when the Germans thought they'd be busy celebrating the holiday season.

The Latvian War Museum has preserved &/or restored much of the Tīrelis swamp & forest battlefield, available today for tours as the Museum of the Christmas Battles.



Lest we forget.

Project BLACK MAMBA: The Nativity of the Lord

'Tis the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas): Nativity-link ūnus, Nativity-link duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings
Nativity of the Lord—Night
The Book of Isaiah, chapter nine, verses one thru six;
Psalm Ninety-six, verses one, two, three, eleven, twelve, & thirteen;
The Letter to Titus, chapter two, verses eleven thru fourteen;
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter two, verses one thru fourteen;

Nativity of the Lord—Dawn
The Book of Isaiah, chapter sixty-two, verses eleven & twelve;
Psalm Ninety-seven, verses one, six, eleven, & twelve;
The Letter to Titus, chapter three, verses four thru seven;
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter two, verses fifteen thru twenty;

Nativity of the Lord—Day
The Book of Isaiah, chapter fifty-two, verses seven thru ten;
Psalm Ninety-eight, verses one thru six;
The Letter to the Hebrews, chapter one, verses one thru six;
The Gospel according to John, chapter one, verses one thru eighteen,
(or, the Gospel according to John, chapter one, verses one thru five & nine thru fourteen).

Due to joyous circumstances beyond our control, Project BLACK MAMBA will be offline 'til the Seventh Day within the Octave of the Nativity of the Lord, Saturday, 31 December, at the earliest.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of Christmas Day


The Klezmonauts, "Joy to the World" from Oy to the World! A Klezmer Christmas (The Last Jolly Man)

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Victors | Project OSPREY: Team 101

I did not see any of Team 101's, the 2016-2017 squad of valiant Wolverines, first six games; I could have seen at least some of them if I had made a more strenuous effort, but (a) there are many competing demands for a finite amount of time & (b) before Thanksgiving I devote most of my sports-allocated leisure time to football, without apology. Team 101 looks much the same as 2015-2016's Team 100, in part because now graduated seniors Caris LeVert & "Spike" Albrecht missed so much of their respectively senior years to injury. Albrecht, the last contributor from the Final Four appearance in 2013, is now a grad transfer playing at Purdue; LeVert is in the N.B.A., coming off the bench for Brooklyn. Three sophomores transferred to other schools & will thus be sitting out this season—damnatio memoriae.

For one week, the valiant Wolverines were ranked in the A.P. Top 25—tied for № 25 with Florida State after defeating Marquette & S.M.U. to win the 2K Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York City. After the home loss to South Carolina, that was the end of that; the subsequent defeat by Virginia Tech in the B1G/A.C.C. Challenge seemed to confirm the voters' assessment that the valiant Wolverines are not quite ready for prime time. It's a long season, though, & the Michigan men could well fight their way back into the Top 25. The goal, however, is to be in the Top 64 come time for the "Big Dance," "March Madness." It's not even Christmas; still plenty of time to learn how to play together & win together as a team.

Tuesday, 6 December / Crisler Center
Michigan 53-50 Texas
7-2, B1G 0-0

The victory over Texas was a slog; it would have been unbearable in defeat. However, credit must go to the valiant Wolverines for grinding out the victory. While hardly world-beaters, the epithetless Longhorns are a respectable opponent & it was good to pull out a victory in a game that had so many apparent parallels to the Virginia Tech loss.

Saturday, 10 December @ Pauley Pavilion
(№ 2) U.C.L.A. 102-84 Michigan
7-3, B1G 0-0

The victory over Texas not not much fun to watch; the defeat at the hands of U.C.L.A. was a heck of a lot of fun to watch. The first half was a ridiculous track meet, both clubs running, both clubs raining downs threes, neither side giving much thought at all to defense. The scored was tied, 50-50, at the half. I was giggling throughout the first half, along with the broadcast team. In the second half, well, we just couldn't keep up with the epithetless Bruins' offensive mojo. U.C.L.A. won the back half 52-34. Normally, I would be tickled pink if the valiant Wolverines scored eighty-four points in any contest. (This may have been the first time in the Beilein era that Michigan scored eighty-plus points & lost.) I'm in no way happy with the defeat, but the simple fact is that we ran into a buzzsaw; U.C.L.A. is the real deal.

Tuesday, 13 December / Crisler Center
Michigan 97-53 Central Arkansas
8-3, B1G 0-0

The good news is that the valiant Wolverines didn't let the epithetless Bruins beat them twice; between the cross-time-zone travel & the presumably lower level of the competition, Central Arkansas could have been a trap game, but the Michigan men came out firing on all cylinders, the offense picking up where it had left off at halftime against U.C.L.A.

Saturday, 17 December / Crisler Center
Michigan 98-49 Maryland Eastern Shore
9-3, B1G 0-0

The valiant Wolverines could have easily surpassed one hundred points had not Coach Beilein cleared the bench, allowing the practice squad players to play the last few minutes of the rout. Even then, had a few more breaks fallen their way, even the scrubs might have topped a century. Games like these are fun if your club is the one piling on the points; I don't know how valuable they are as preparation for the crucible of B1G play that lies ahead, but everyone deserves a few wins over powderpuffs.

Thursday, 22 December / Crisler Center
Michigan 68-62 Furman
10-3, B1G 0-0

Furman is an entirely different beast than either Central Arkansas or Maryland Eastern Shore, but the game would not have been nearly so close had the valiant Wolverines gone stone-cold shooting the long ball. From the early first half 'til the dying minutes of the second, the Maize & Blue missed twelve consecutive three-point shots. Most of those were not contested shots, but wide open looks that were simply missed. The valiant Wolverines, as a club, had a bad case of the yips, & it almost cost them the game. By way of contrast, Michigan was a perfect eighteen of eighteen from the charity stripe. Senior guard Derrick Walton Jr. hit a three-pointer in the late going that felt like a drink of water to a man dying of thirst in the desert; it gave the valiant Wolverines a multi-possession lead that changed Furman's endgame, effectively sealing the hard-fought victory.

Next: The B1G season-opener, on the road @ Iowa. I've not seen the tenacious Hawkeyes play, but from what I've heard on B.T.N. (the Big Ten Network), Michigan @ Iowa could well be a defense-optional, Michigan-@-U.C.L.A.-style shootout, though one hopes with a happier outcome. Conference play: welcome to the meat grinder.

Go Blue!

Bonus! Song of the Day


Barenaked Ladies, "Hanukkah Blessings" from Barenaked for the Holidays (The Last Jolly Man)

Commentary: The interwebs tell me sunset today is at 5:05 P.M., signally the beginning of Hanukkah (as well as, liturgically, Christmas Day). While I shall persist in my Christian duty to pray for the conversion of the Jewish people, I also wish one & all a blessed Hanukkah.

Project BLACK MAMBA: Advent

'Tis the feast of Saint Gregory of Spoleto, Priest & Martyr (died circa 304), martyred in the reign of the emperor Diocletian: Martyr-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Tis also the feast of Saint Irmina of Oeren, Abbess, O.S.B. (died circa 710, A.K.A. of Trier): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine. Ss. Irmina & Adela were sisters, or possibly mother & daughter (?).

'Tis also the feast of Saint Adela of Pfalzel, Abbess, O.S.B. (died 735): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings
Advent Weekend
The Second Book of Samuel, chapter seven, verses one thru five, eight(b) thru twelve, fourteen(a), & sixteen;
Psalm Eighty-nine, verses two thru five, twenty-seven, & twenty-nine;
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter one, verses sixty-seven thru seventy-nine;

Nativity of the Lord—Vigil
The Book of Isaiah, chapter sixty-two, verses one thru five;
Psalm Eighty-nine, verses four, five, sixteen, seventeen, twenty-seven, & twenty-nine;
The Acts of the Apostles, chapter thirteen, verses sixteen, seventeen, & twenty-two thru twenty-five;
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter one, verses one thru twenty-five,
(or, the Gospel according to Matthew, chapter one, verses eighteen thru twenty-five).

The Rebel Black Dot Song of Christmas Eve


Nat King Cole, "O Holy Night" from Christmas with Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin (The Last Jolly Man)

Commentary: The power, the majesty of Cole's voice gets me every time.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Operation AXIOM


Happy Festivus! We here at The Secret Base are very excited about the looming Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord & the attendant, two-week Christmastide (Jesus is the reason for the season, after all. It's not just a snappy rhyme, it's also the truth.), but we would also be very curious to hear your stories of how the Festivus observance went in your home. Was the Airing of Grievances cathartic or instead of relieving did it exacerbate existing tensions? How many rounds were necessary for the completing of the Feats of Strength? Any Festivus miracles?

The Wayback Machine Tour of Festivus
Festivus '15

Project BLACK MAMBA: Advent

'Tis the Optional Memorial of Saint John of Kanty, Priest (1390-1473, A.K.A. John Cantius): Saint-link ūnus, Saint-link duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine. Quoth the Holy Redeemer bulletin:
He distributed to the poor all the money & clothes he had, retaining only what was absolutely necessary to support himself. He slept little, & on the floor, ate very sparingly, & was a total abstainer from meant after he became a doctor. During this life he performed various miracles, which were multiplied after his death at his tomb. He was canonized by Clement XIII in 1767. The Roman Breviary distinguishes him with three hymns; he is the only confessor not a bishop who is thus honored.
.
'Tis also the feast of Blessed Hartmann of Brixen, Bishop (circa 1090-1164): Blessed-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Tis also the feast of Saint John Stone, Religious & Martyr, O.S.A. (died circa 1539), martyred in the reign of the king Henry VIII, one of the Forty Martyrs of England & Wales: Martyr-link & Wikipedia-link; Wikipedia-link XL.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings
Advent Weekday
The Book of Malachi, chapter three, verses one thru four, twenty-three, & twenty-four;
Psalm Twenty-five, verses four, five(a,b), eight, nine, ten, & fourteen;
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter one, verses fifty-seven thru sixty-six;

or, for St. John:
The Second Letter to Timothy, chapter four, verses one thru five;
Psalm One Hundred Twelve, verse one;
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter six, verses twenty-seven thru thirty-eight.

Individual Reading
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter thirteen, verses fifty-four thru fifty-eight;
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter fourteen (verses one thru thirty-six).

Commentary: V. Jesus, the Kingdom, & the Church: The Rejection at Nazareth (13:54-58), Herod's Opinion of Jesus (14:1&2), the Death of John the Baptist (14:3-12), the Return of the Twelve & the Feeding of the Five Thousand (14:13-21), the Walking on the Water (14:22-33), & the Healings at Gennesaret (14:34-36).

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day


Reel Big Fish, "Carol of the Beers" from the Happy Skalidays E.P. (The Last Jolly Man)

Skammentary: Lest "Whatever U Celebrate" made one doubt what had happened to the Reel Big Fish, "Carol of the Beers" assures the concerned listener that they are still as uncouth as they've always been. "Carol of the Bells" is reproduced by the continual repetition of the word "beer," which is actually kind of impressive, but beneath that we hear a series of tabbed cans opening & being crushed, liquid being guzzled, & belches erupting.

Yes, the most consistently impressive facet of
The Secret Base is its refinement & sophistication.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Project BLACK MAMBA: Advent

'Tis the feast of Saint Abbán of New Ross, Abbot (sixth century): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Tis also the feast of Saint Hunger of Utrecht, Bishop (died 866, A.K.A. Hungerus Frisus): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine.

'Tis also the feast of Blessed Jutta of Disibodenberg, Abbess, O.S.B. (circa 1084-1136, A.K.A. of Sponheim): Blessed-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Tis also the feast of Blessed Thomas Holland, Priest & Martyr, S.J. (1600-1642), martyred by the Roundhead Parliament: Martyr-link & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings
The First Book of Samuel, chapter one, verses twenty-four thru twenty-eight;
The First Book of Samuel, chapter two, verses one & four thru eight(d);
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter one, verses forty-six thru fifty-six.

Individual Reading
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter thirteen, verses one thru fifty-three.

Commentary: The Parable of the Sower (13:1-9), the Purpose of Parables (13:10-15), the Privilege of Discipleship (13:16&17), the Explanation of the Parable of the Sower (13:18-23), the Parable of the Weeds among the Wheat (13:24-30), the Parable of the Mustard Seed (13:31&32), the Parable of the Yeast (13:33), the Use of Parables (13:34&35), the Explanation of the Parable of the Weeds (13:36-43), More Parables (13:44-50), & Treasures New & Old (13:51-53).

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day


Reel Big Fish, "Whatever U Celebrate" from the Happy Skalidays E.P. (The Last Jolly Man)

Skammentary: "Whatever U Celebrate" is entirely out of character for the Reel Big Fish. So out of character that I'm not entirely sure what to think, how to react. R.B.F. are known for being the angriest, most bitter of all ska bands, with songs titled, "Hate You," "P.S. I Hate You," Your Guts (I Hate 'em)," "We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful," & "Don't Start a Band," not to mention their album, We're Not Happy 'Til You're Not Happy. They are snarky, sarcastic, & just plain mean. Then, like a bolt out of the clear, blue sky comes "Whatever U Celebrate," a song veritably overflowing with good will. I'm glad to hear them turn over a new leaf, but I confess that I find the whole song very confusing.
"Whatever you celebrate, this one's for you,
Whatever holiday you're into, well, that's up to you,
Whatever you celebrate, I hope it's awesome for you,
And I just want to say, have a happy holiday.

"So merry Christmas, happy Hannukah,
I hope you have an unforgettable Kwanzaa,
Happy new year, I hope it's the best one yet.
I do!

"Whatever you celebrate, this one's for you…

"So if it's wintertime, or summer for you,
Just have a good time when you do what you do,
It's that time of year, let's have some fun,
And happy holidays, no matter which one…"

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Project BLACK MAMBA: Advent

'Tis the Optional Memorial of Saint Peter Canisius, Priest & Doctor of the Church, S.J. (1521-1597): Doctor-link ūnus, Doctor-link duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine. Quoth the Holy Redeemer bulletin:
Canisius lived during the height of the Protestant Reformation & dedicated much of his work to the clarification of the Catholic faith in light of the emergence of the new Protestant doctrines. His lasting contribution in his three catechisms, which he published in Latin & German, which became widespread & popular in Catholic regions.
Quoth the Holy Family bulletin:
After his ordination in 1546, he became widely known for his editions of the writings of Saint Cyril of Alexandria (27 June) & Saint Leo the Great (10 November). Besides this reflective literary bent, Peter had a zeal for the apostolate. He could often be found visiting the sick or prisoners, even when his assigned duties in other areas were more than enough to keep most [persons] fully occupied. In 1547, Peter attended several sessions of the Council of Trent, whose decrees he was later assigned to implement. Renowned as a popular preacher, Peter packed churches with those eager to hear his eloquent proclamation of the gospel. He had great diplomatic ability, often serving as a reconciler between disputing factions. In his letters (filling eight volumes) one finds words of wisdom & counsel to people in all walks of life. At times he wrote unprecedented letters of criticism to leaders of the Church—yet always in the context of a loving, sympathetic concern.
'Tis also the feast of Saint Anastasius II of Antioch, Bishop & Martyr (died 609, A.K.A. the Younger), martyred by a Jewish mob: Martyr-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Tis also the feast of Saint Beornwald of Bampton, Priest (eight century): Saint-link, Wikipedia-link, & Google-link.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings
Advent Weekday
The Song of Songs, chapter two, verses eight thru fourteen;
or, the Book of Zephaniah, chapter three, verses fourteen thru eighteen(a);
Psalm Thirty-three, verses two, three, eleven, twelve, twenty, & twenty-one;
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter one, verses thirty-nine thru forty-five;

or, for St. Peter:
The Second Letter to Timothy, chapter four, verses one thru five;
Psalm Forty, verses eight(a) & nine(a);
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter five, verses thirteen thru nineteen.

Individual Reading
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter twelve (verses one thru fifty);
The Book of Sirach, chapter fifty-one, verses twenty-three thru thirty.

Commentary: Picking Grain on the Sabbath (Matthew, 12:1-8), the Man with the Withered Hand (12:9-14), the Chosen Servant (12:15-21), Jesus & Beelzebul (12:22-32), a Tree & Its Fruits (12:33-37), the Demand for a Sign (12:38-42), the Return of the Unclean Spirit (12:43-45), & the True Family of Jesus (12:46-50).

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day


Reel Big Fish, "Lickle Drummond Bwoy" from the Happy Skalidays E.P. (The Last Jolly Man)

Skammentary: Aside from the drunken title, there's nothing else particularly odd about this ska rendition of "Little Drummer Boy."

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Project BLACK MAMBA: Advent

'Tis the feast of Saint Zephyrinus, Pope (died 217), fifteenth Bishop of Rome: Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Tis also the feast of Saint Dominic of Silos, Priest & Abbot, O.S.B. (circa 1000-1073): Saint-link ūnus, Saint-link duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine. Quoth the Holy Family bulletin:
Dominic of Silos was born in Spain around the year 1000 into a peasant family. As a young boy he spent time in the fields, where he welcomed the solitude. He became a Benedictine priest & served in numerous leadership positions. Following a dispute with the king over property, Dominic & two other monks were exiled. They established a new monastery in what at first seemed an unpromising location. Under Dominic's leadership, however, it became one of the most famous houses in Spain. Many healings were reported there. About one hundred years after Dominic's death, a young woman made a pilgrimage to his tomb. There Dominic of Silos appeared to her & assured her that she would bear another son. The woman was (Bl.) Joan of Aza (2 August), & the son she bore grew up to be the "other" Dominic—the one who founded the Dominicans.
'Tis also the feast of Blessed Vincent Romano, Priest (1751-1831), the "Worker Priest:" Blessed-link & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings
The Book of Isaiah, chapter seven, verses ten thru fourteen;
Psalm Twenty-four, verses one thru four(b), five, & six;
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter one, verses twenty-six thru thirty-eight.

Individual Reading
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter eleven, verses two thru thirty.

Commentary: IV. Opposition from Israel: The Messengers from John the Baptist (11:2-6), Jesus's Testimony to John (11:7-19), Reproaches to Unrepentant Towns (11:20-24), the Praise of the Father (11:25-27), & the Gentle Mastery of Christ (11:28-30).

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day


Reel Big Fish, "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" from the Happy Skalidays E.P. (The Last Jolly Man)

Skammentary: It was in preparing to assign this whole week's R.B.D.S.O.T.D. to R.B.F.'s Happy Skalidays that I discovered, very much to my surprise, that "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" had never been a part of the R.B.D.S.O.T.D.'s Christmas observance. So, attentive readers got received a double helping of the silly Christmas classic. You're welcome!
Cold pizza & a Red Bull: the breakfast of champions.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day

Reel Big Fish, "Skank for Christmas" from the Happy Skalidays E.P. (The Last Jolly Man)

Skammentary: Interwoven within "Skank for Christmas's" original melody is a medley of Christmas classics. This is just the tip of the iceberg of uncharacteristic things about Happy Skalidays.
"I don't wanna go riding in a one-horse sleigh,
I don't care about a winder wonderland anyway,
I don't wanna build a man out of ice and snow,
I don't wanna kiss under the mistletoe,
I don't care if there are presents underneath the tree,
Well, there's just one thing I need.

"I just wanna,
I just wanna,
I just wanna,
I just wanna,
I just wanna skank for Christmas!

"I don't wanna eat sugar plumbs or candy canes,
I don't wanna go wassailing, whatever that means,
I don't care about a white-bearded man in red,
I don't care about elves or a reindeer-pulled sled,
I don't care if Rudolph's nose is shining bright,
There's only one thing I need tonight.

"I just wanna,
I really, really wanna,
I just wanna,
I only, only wanna,
I just wanna skank for Christmas!

"I don't wanna roast chestnuts on an open flame,
Silver bells and tinsel won't make my day,
I didn't hang up my stocking above the fireplace,
But I've got my dancing shoes on and I'm running in place,
Baby, it's cold outside, but don't worry,
Once we start dancing we'll be warm in a hurry.
Let's go!

"Dancer, Dasher, Prancer, Vixen,
Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen,
You could turn 'em all into venison,
Tails (unintelligible) medicine!

"I don't care about coal in my stocking,
Sugar plumb fairies or jingle bell rocking,
Maybe I could use a little ho-ho-ho,
Well, we'll just see how it goes!…

"And there's nobody
I'd rather be skanking with
Than you!

"And of course, when I say 'skank' I'm talking about the ska dance, and nothing else. Merry Christmas!"
Your humble narrator did once pen the lines, for the Real Can of Yams song "Riot Grrl":
"I want a girl who likes to skank,
I want a girl who's not a skank…"

Project BLACK MAMBA: Advent

'Tis the feast of Saint Anastasius I, Pope (died circa 401), thirty-ninth Bishop of Rome: Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine.

'Tis also the feast of Blessed Urban V, Pope, O.S.B. (1310-1370), two hundredth Bishop of Rome: Blessed-link ūnus, Blessed-link duo, & Wikipedia-link.

'Tis also the feast of Blessed Kazimiera Wołowska, Prioress & Martyr (1879-1942, A.K.A. Maria Marta of Jesus, Marta Wołowska), martyred in the reign of the Führer Adolf Hitler, one of the One Hundred Eight Martyrs of World War II: Martyr-link; Martyrs-link CVIII & Wikipedia-link CVIII.

'Tis also the feast of Blessed René Dubroux, Priest & Martyr, M.E.P. (1914-1959), martyred at the hands of the Pathet Lao, one of the Martyrs of Laos: Martyr-link & Wikipedia-link Laos.

Commentary: Father Dubroux & his fellow martyrs were beatified way back on 11 December 2016.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings
The Book of Judges, chapter thirteen, verses two thru seven, twenty-four, & twenty-five(a);
Psalm Seventy-one, verses three, four(a), five, six(a,b), sixteen, & seventeen;
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter one, verses five thru twenty-five.

Individual Reading
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter ten (verses one thru forty-two);
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter eleven, verse one.

Commentary: The Mission of the Twelve (10:1-4), the Commissioning of the Twelve (10:5-15), Coming Persecutions (10:16-25), Courage under Persecution (10:26-33), Jesus: A Cause of Division (10:34-36), the Conditions of Discipleship (10:37-39), & Rewards (10:40-11:1).

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Explorers' Club, № DXXVIII

Operation AXIOM: The World War—The Battle of Verdun, Part VI
15-17 December 1916: The "Second Offensive"—Again preceded by a six-day artillery bombardment, French infantry attacked, finding two-thirds of the German defenders still sheltering from the creeping barrage; 13,000-plus men & over a hundred heavy guns were captured; Verdun was a defeat for the Germans & a victory for the French, but the morale & discipline of the French army was crumbling.






The Wayback Machine Tour of the Battle of Verdun
№ CDLXXXV: "Bleed France Dry" (Part I)
№ CDLXXXVII: The Capture of Fort Douaumont (Part II)
№ CDXCII: "On ne passe pas! ("They Shall Not Pass!") (Part III)
№ DI: The Siege & Capture of Fort Vaux (Part IV)
№ DXX: The "First Offensive" Recaptures Forts Douaumont & Vaux (Part V)

Lest we forget.

Project BLACK MAMBA: Fourth Sunday of Advent

'Tis the Fourth Sunday of Advent: Advent-link & Wikipedia-link.

Otherwise, 18 December would be the feast of Saint Auxentius of Mopsuetia, Bishop (died circa 321): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine.

'Twould also be the feast of Saint Samthann of Clonbroney, Abbess (died 739): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Twould also be the feast of Saint Winebald of Heidenheim, Abbot, O.S.B. (circa 701-768, A.K.A. numerous variant spellings): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Fourth Sunday of Advent
Mass Readings
The Book of Isaiah, chapter seven, verses ten thru fourteen;
Psalm Twenty-four, verses one thru six;
The Letter to the Romans, chapter one, verses one thru seventeen;
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter one, verses eighteen thru twenty-four.

* * * * *

Saturday, 17 December was the feast of Saint Lazarus of Bethany (first century, A.K.A. Lazarus of the Four Days): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine.

'Twas also the feast of Saint Sturmi of Fulda, Priest & Abbot, O.S.B. (circa 705-779, A.K.A. Sturm): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Twas also the feast of Saint John of Matha, Priest, O.SS.T. (circa 1160-1213), co-founder of the Trinitarians, formally the Order of the Most Holy Trinity & of the Captives: Saint-link & Wikipedia-link; Wikipedia-link O.SS.T.


Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings
The Book of Genesis, chapter forty-nine, verses two, eight, nine, & ten;
Psalm Seventy-two, verses one thru four(b), seven, eight, & seventeen;
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter one, verses one thru seventeen.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the 4th Sunday of Advent


Sufjan Stevens, "Once in Royal David's City" from Songs for Christmas (The Last Jolly Man)

Commentary: There are two versions of "Once in Royal David's City" on Songs for Christmas, which is less an album than a compendium of several Advent/Christmastide E.P.s; this is the shorter, purely instrumental version. 'Tis a very lovely song.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day


Eartha Kitt, "Santa Baby" from Elf: Music from the Major Motion Picture (The Last Jolly Man)

Commentary: There are many renditions of "Santa Baby," many of them good, but none better than the original. Orson Welles once called Eartha Kitt the "most exciting woman in the world." That sounds about right.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Project BLACK MAMBA: Advent

'Tis the feast of Saint Ado of Vienne, Bishop, O.S.B. (died circa 875): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine.

'Tis also the feast of Saint Nicholas Chrysoberges, Bishop (died 996, A.K.A. Nicholas II of Constantinople): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Tis also the feast of Saint Adelaide of Italy (931-999, A.K.A. of Burgundy), Holy Roman Empress: Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings
The Book of Isaiah, chapter fifty-three, verses one, two, three(a), six, seven, & eight;
Psalm Sixty-seven, verses two, three, five, seven, & eight;
The Gospel according to John, chapter five, verses thirty-three thru thirty-six.

Individual Reading
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter nine (verses one thru thirty-eight).

Commentary: The Healing of a Paralytic (9:1-8), the Call of Matthew (9:9-13), the Question about Fasting (9:14-17), the Official's Daughter & the Woman with a Hemorrhage (9:18-26), the Healing of Two Blind Men (9:27-31), the Healing of a Mute Person (9:32-34), & the Compassion of Jesus (9:35-38).

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day


Elmo & Patsy, "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" via iTunes (The Last Jolly Man)

Commentary: Classics are not necessarily classy.
"When we found her Christmas morning,
At the scene of the attack,
She had hoof prints on forehead,
And incriminating Claus marks on her back!

"Grandma got run over by a reindeer
Walking home from our house Christmas Eve.
You can say there's no such thing as Santa,
But as for me and Grandpa, we believe…"

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Victors: Team 137, Game 10

Saturday, 12 November 2016 @ Kinnick Stadium
Iowa 14-13 Michigan (№ 2)
9-1, B1G 6-1

Coming into the season, the strength of Team 137, the 2016 squad of the valiant Wolverines, was presumed to be the defense. No one yet knew that the defense would become Uncle Don's Murder Machine, an even deadlier, stingier unit than Team 136's defense under then-defensive coordinator D. J. Durkin, but the defense was less of a question mark than the offense. With the exhaustion of grad transfer Jake Rudock's N.C.A.A. eligibility, who would be the Michigan quarterback? Houston transfer John O'Korn or Rudock's backup Wilton Speight? Speight won the job over O'Korn by a whisker just before the start of the season; week by week, Speight matured into a serviceable quarterback, not a world-beater, but a quarterback who rarely put Michigan's magnificent defense into untenable situations: "Mr. Efficiency," some pundits called him. As 2016 rolled on, the "Fighting Harbaughs" had an offense that put up often gaudy numbers—no fewer than forty-five points in any of the first four games, an astronomical seventy-eight against Rutgers, & fifty-nine against Maryland. On a windy day in Iowa City, against a tenacious Hawkeyes squad that had had a disappointing season, none of that earlier offensive acumen would be on display.

The defeat was a whole-team affair; we all contributed. The once-powerful offense was hapless most of the day, looking competent only on a first-quarter touchdown drive & finishing the day with a paltry two hundred one yards of offense. An ill-conceived & extremely poorly-blocked run deep in our own end led to De'Veon Smith being tackled in Michigan's own end zone, giving Iowa a safety. Speight threw poorly, finishing the day eleven of twenty-six (11/26) with no touchdowns & an interception; the ugly & inopportune interception just when we were looking to put the game away late in the fourth quarter. The special teams, normally a strength, were a mixed bag. Kicker Kenny Allen made a career-long field goal (fifty-one yards!), but the second-half kickoff was fumbled & recovered by Iowa, who gained their first lead of the game witht he ensuing field goal. A facemask penalty in the waning second gave Iowa exquisite field position from which to kick the game-winning field goal. The defense did everything that could be asked of it, including thwarting Iowa on the two-point conversion attempt after the tenacious Hawkeyes' lone touchdown, but the offensive & special-teams ineptitude gave Iowa too many short fields in which to operate, allowing their field goal kicker to negate the Murder Machine's inherent advantages.

On a weird day in college football, Michigan was not alone among top-five clubs in losing, & so did not suffer tremendously in the follow week's poles. More ominously, though, we had failed our first significant road test of the year. Of the previous nine games, only two had been played outside the friendly confines of Michigan Stadium, but neither of those could be considered a real test, as they were at the alien Scarlet Knights of Rutgers & the dastardly Spartans of Michigan State, two clubs that between them would finish the year with a solitary B1G win (& that only because "Moo U." defeated the State University of New Jersey in a conference game one of the otherwise winless-in-conference-play clubs had to win). Michigan's next road game would come in the most hostile of all environments—Ohio Stadium, "the Horseshoe," home to the hated Buckeyes of Ohio State.

I watched the Iowa game at Xanadu in *shudder" Ohio; normally I sojourn to Xanadu to watch the Michigan State game alongside my brother, but those plans were scuttled this year by the Michigan State game coinciding with Hallowe'en weekend. The embittering, embarrassing defeat at Iowa was a night game, meaning I went to bed Saturday night still demoralized & angry. Blessedly, I awoke on Sunday smiling, grateful for the very existence of Sunday, the day we cannot live without, thanks be to Our Lord & Savior for His glorious Resurrection, which assures those who follow Him of eternal life. I like (college) football, I care about football, but it is only a game. Losing a game, even an important game, is never the end of the world.

Next: The wily Hoosiers of Indiana, & Senior Day at the Big House.

Go Blue!

Project BLACK MAMBA: Advent

'Tis the feast of Saint Offa of Essex, Monk (died circa 709), King of Essex: Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine.

'Tis also the feast of Saint Margaret of Fontana, Virgin, T.O.S.D. (1440-1513): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Tis also the feast of Saint Maria Crocifissa di Rosa, Religious, A.D.C. (1813-1855), foundress of the Handmaids of Charity: Saint-link & Wikipedia-link; Wikipedia-link A.D.C.

'Tis also the feast of Blessed Mary Frances Schervier, Religious, S.P.S.F. (1819-1876), foundress of the Poor Sisters of Saint Francis & the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor: Blessed-link ūnus, Blessed-link duo, & Wikipedia-link Mike Foxtrot Sierra; Wikipedia-link S.P.S.F. & Wikipedia-link S.F.P.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings
The Book of Isaiah, chapter fifty-four, verses one thru ten;
Psalm Thirty, verses two, four, five, six, eleven, twelve(a), & thirteen(b);
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter seven, verses twenty-four thru thirty.

Individual Reading
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter eight (verses one thru thirty-four);
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter seven, verses one thru ten;
The Gospel according to John, chapter four, verses forty-six thru fifty-four.

Commentary: III. Ministry & Mission in Galilee: The Cleansing of a Leper (Matthew, 8:1-4), the Healing of a Centurion's Servant (8:5-13), the Cure of Peter's Mother-in-Law (8:14&15), Other Healings (8:16&17), the Would-be Followers of Jesus (8:18-22), the Calming of the Storm at Sea (8:23-27), & the Healing of the Gadarene Demoniacs (8:28-34); the Healing of a Centurion's Servant (Luke, 7:1-10) & Second Sign at Cana (John, 4:46-54).

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day


Barenaked Ladies, "Carol of the Bells" from Barenaked for the Holidays (The Last Jolly Man)

Commentary: I've mentioned my fondness for (almost) any rendition of "Carol of the Bells," yes? The great tragedy of the Barenaked Ladies is that at one point they were a really good band, before Steven Page's drug-fueled departure & the rest of the band soldiered on in increasingly mediocre mediocrity. But let's nae dwell on such unpleasantness in this festive season.

Merry Christmas, you hosers!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Victors: Team 137, Game 9

Saturday, 5 November 2016 / Michigan Stadium
(№ 2*) Michigan 59-3 Maryland
9-0, B1G 6-0

In the late summer or early fall, Red Patton contacted me with an offer of inexpensive tickets to the Indiana game (Saturday, 19 November). I had not been to "the Big House" since the Big Chill hockey game 'twixt Michigan & Michigan State in December of 2010, & had not seen a football game there since 2000 or 2001; so, I accepted his offer enthusiastically. Only days later, he informed me he'd meant the Maryland game, not Indiana; this was unfortunate, as it precluded my attendance at a Knights of Columbus event I should like to have attended, but I was still very excited to return to the hollowed ground of Michigan Stadium.

I was a season ticket-holder for four years while a student at Michigan, so I'd never really tailgated. While eat & drink out of the trunk of a motorcar when you can eat & drink in your dorm room or rental house? Super Mario, the Trojan Horse, & I gathered at Red Patton & Mrs. Red Patton's Ann Arbor apartment (Mrs. Red Patton is a mad scientist at the University) & from there drove to the University Michigan Golf Course in Red Patton's aging chariot. With the game set for a 3:30 kickoff, we had plenty of time to grill & drink beforehand without feeling like degenerates. (Yes, it's always five o'clock somewhere, but no respectable nor self-respecting gentleman imbibes before noon.) We sat in lawn chairs & joked with strangers, we played Cornhole (on the dustiest boards known to man, with equally dusty beanbags) & grilled on the trunk of Red Patton's motorcar, we sought shade from the bright Indian Summer sunshine & debated the manifold virtues of the valiant Wolverines under the enthusiastic leadership of Coach Harbaugh. It was altogether a nearly perfect early afternoon. Super Mario had some trouble getting Red Patton & the Trojan Horse to recognize when it was time to pack up our stuff & walk over to the stadium (of which we had a lovely view from where we were parked), but my voice carried more weight & we were soon sauntering amidst the growing throng filing into the House that Yost Built.

We attained our seats in the southeast corner of the stadium (opposite the student section in the northwest corner, from which I saw all the games back in my day) shortly before the pre-game festivities began & hooted & hollered along with the crowd as the Michigan Marching Band took the field & played the sacred strains of "The Victors." We thrilled as the valiant Wolverines of Team 137 streamed out of the tunnel & leapt to touch the M Club banner. I was the old hand, the sage answering the many excited questions about what was to happen next from my companions, some of whom were experiencing their first game in the Big House & others only his second. It was a joy to be there with Red Patton, Super Mario, & the Trojan Horse, even aside from the on-field action.

The game wasn't much of a game, to the supreme delight of the Maize & Blue faithful. Under clear blue skies & weather conditions that felt more appropriate for a September non-conference game than for a November B1G slug fest, the valiant Wolverines dominated the terrible Terrapins, much improved under first-year head coach & former Michigan defensive coordinator D. J. Durkin, but still no match for the undefeated "Fighting Harbaughs." Everyone was in such a good mood & having so much fun that it was only a minor shame when Maryland kicked a field goal & Uncle Don's Murder Machine lost the shutout. As the poet wrote (Robert Browning, "Pippa Passes"):
God’s in His heaven—
All’s right with the world!
After the game, we ambled back to the car in the gathering dark, waited for the outpouring of traffic from the golf course to slacken, & took a very circuitous route back to the Red Pattons' apartment, where pizza was consumed & much fun was had. Super Mario & the Trojan Horse stayed overnight with Red Patton, while I was due to make a presentation at church early upon the morrow, & so had to bow out of the festivities to drive home. Just as well, because they started talking about fantasy football & playing Madden, twin activities that I find mind-numbing. What an altogether grand day!

Next: The tenacious Hawkeyes of Iowa, & the death of the dream.

Go Blue!

*In the first College Football Playoff (C.F.P.) ranking, Michigan was ranked № 3 behind № 1 Alabama & № 2 Clemson. Michigan remained № 2 in the Associated Press (A.P.) poll, for which we here at The Secret Base have more respect than the C.F.P. selection committee. In the A.P. poll, Michigan was sandwiched betwixt № 1 Alabama & № 3 Clemson, so its not as if the C.F.P. rankings were way out in left field, but we maintain our tradition of using the A.P. rankings to the exclusion of all else.

Project BLACK MAMBA: Advent

'Tis the Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, Priest & Doctor of the Church, O.Carm. (1542-1591), whose reforms of his own Carmelite Order led after his death to the founding of the Discalced Carmelites, formally the Order of the Discalced Carmelites of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel: Doctor-link ūnus, Doctor-link duo, & Wikipedia-link; Wikipedia-link O.C.D.

Commentary: Wayback Machine. Quoth the Holy Redeemer bulletin:
He was a major figure in the Counter-Reformation, a Spanish mystic, a Roman Catholic saint, a Carmelite friar, & a priest who was born in Fontiveros, Old Castile. Both his poetry & his studies on the growth of the soul are considered the summit of mystical Spanish literature & one of the peaks of all Spanish literature. His is one of the thirty-six Doctors of the Church.
Quoth the Holy Family bulletin:
John of the Cross was born at Fontiveros in Spain around 1542. After a number of years as a Carmelite, he was persuaded by Saint Teresa of Ávila (15 October) in 1568 to lead a reform movement among the brothers which brought a new energy to the Carmelite Order. Renowned for his wisdom & sanity, he died in Ubeda in 1591. His spiritual writings remain a fitting testimony to his life.
'Tis also the feast of Saint Spyridon, Bishop (circa 270-348): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Tis also the feast of Saint Nimatullah Kassab, Priest & Abbot, O.L.M. (1808-1858): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings
Advent Weekday
The Book of Isaiah, chapter forty-five, verses six(c) thru eight, eighteen, & twenty-one(c) thru twenty-five;
Psalm Eighty-five, verses nine(a,b) & ten thru fourteen;
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter seven, verses eighteen(b) thru twenty-three;

or, for St. John:
The First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter two, verses one thru ten(a);
Psalm Thirty-seven, verse thirty(a);
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter fourteen, verses twenty-five thru thirty-three.

Individual Reading
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter seven (verses one thru twenty-nine);
The First Letter to the Thessalonians, chapter five, verses sixteen, seventeen, & eighteen;
The Letter to the Ephesians, chapter four, verses seventeen thru twenty-four;
The Gospel according to John, chapter three, verses three thru eight;
The Letter to the Colossians, chapter three, verses ten, eleven, & twelve;
The Second Letter to the Corinthians, chapter five, verses sixteen, seventeen, & eighteen;
The Letter to the Galatians, chapter two, verse twenty.

Commentary: The reading from Matthew, the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, is my personal reading; Thessalonians is for tonight's religious ed. class; & all the rest are for tonight's C.R.H.P. meeting.

Judging Others (Matthew, 7:1-5), Pearls before Swine (7:6), the Answer to Prayers (7:7-11), the Golden Rule (7:12), the Narrow Gate (7:13&14), False Prophets (7:15-20), the True Disciple (7:21-23), & the Two Foundations (7:24-29).

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day


The Puppini Sisters, "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" from Christmas with the Puppini Sisters (The Last Jolly Man)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Victors: Team 137, Game 8

Saturday, 29 October 2016 @ Spartan Stadium
(№ 2) Michigan 32-23 Michigan State
8-0, B1G 5-0

It was with no small amount of glee that I watched the implosion of the dastardly Spartans this football season, from B1G Champions & College Football Playoff contenders in 2015 to an abysmal 3-9 (B1G 1-8) in 2016. Michigan's Lost Decade coincided with the most successful decades in dastardly Spartan history, & the prideful illiterates from "Moo U." were always keen to gloat & crow. Their struggles in 2016 could not have happened to a more deserving bunch of braggarts.

All that said, the Michigan-Michigan State game was much more of a contest that it should have been. The valiant Wolverines's offense sputtered in the second half (presaging the disasters to come in November), while the dastardly Spartans played with a verve & competence that was on display few other times in their losing season. Late in the fourth quarter, Michigan State scored a touchdown to trail 30-23. Kicking the extra point (or point after), would make the score 30-24, giving Michigan State a chance to win the game if they could recover the onside kickoff, score a touchdown (to tie the game at 30-30), & kick the subsequent point after (to prevail 31-30). Kicking the extra point is a higher-percentage play that going for two, yet dastardly Spartan head coach Mark Dantonio elected to go for two. Had the try been successful, Michigan would still have held the advantage, 30-25, requiring Michigan State to recover on onside kickoff & score a touchdown; the only difference is that the touchdown itself would have sealed the deal (31-30) rather than requiring the point after try for the win; however, with two-point conversions being so much more difficult to score than point-after kicks, there was a better than even chance that the score would remain 30-23, meaning the dastardly Spartans would need a touchdown & extra point just to tie, not to win. There was no discernible advantage to going for two rather than trying the kick for one.

So, the dastardly Spartans went for two. Not only did they not score, but in a delightful improbable turn of events the loose ball was scooped up by Michigan Heisman Trophy finalist Jabril Peppers, who ran the ball back the length of the field to score a safety for Michigan, cementing the victory with an insurmountable 32-23 lead. Had they kicked the field goal, Michigan State would have trailed 30-24 & held a ghost of a chance of winning, but because Dantonio's hatred for the Maize & Blue overcame his reason, his club faced a two-score deficit, 32-23. As Dantonio himself once remarked, with disdainful smugness, "Pride cometh before a fall." Pity he didn't heed his own advice.

Later in the year, the dastardly Spartans had a chance to redeem themselves against the hated Buckeyes of Ohio State. Again, they played above their rest-of-the-year form & in the waning seconds scored a touchdown to trail Ohio State 17-16. A successful point after kick would have tied the game, probably sending it into overtime. But again, Dantonio chose the low-percentage play & went for two; the attempt failed & his club lost the game. Time & time again, Dantonio cut his nose to spite his own face, putting his pride & fragile ego above the best interests of his club winning games. It was glorious insult added to the injury of a disappointing, losing season. Could not have happened to a more deserving jerk.

Michigan went 3-9 in 2008, the most disastrous season in living memory, the shame of which will never be completely shaken off. But there were many mitigating factors. Michigan had a new coach with a whole new (doomed, as it turned out) philosophy of the game, the old coach had stayed too long & had fallen off a recruiter, that departing coach forever tainted his legacy by encouraging players to leave the program rather than stay & play for the new coach; it was a perfect storm of misfortune. All that happened to Michigan State is that they graduated a class of seniors. They didn't switch coaches. They didn't encounter a dearth of talent; quite the opposite, the last few recruiter classes have been the most highly rated in Michigan State history. Nothing changed, except that they lost nine games; nothing changed, except that instead of playing the College Football Playoff (where, it must be noted, they were annihilated by Alabama, 38-0), their only conference win was against the alien Scarlet Knights of Rutgers, a club whose membership in the B1G is an affront to both tradition & decency.

It is a minor shame that the dastardly Spartans were so terrible this year, because I would have loved to watch the "Fighting Harbaughs" defeat the best effort the Green & White could muster, but that is a very minor shame next to the freely flowing Schadenfreude of Sparty's 3-9 debacle. Bwa ha ha ha ha!

Next: The terrible Terrapins of Maryland, & my first football to the Big House in many years.

Go Blue!

Project BLACK MAMBA: Advent

'Tis the Memorial of Saint Lucy, Virgin & Martyr (circa 283-304, A.K.A. of Syracuse), martyred in the reign of the emperor Diocletian: Martyr-link ūna, Martyr-link duae, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine. Quoth the Holy Redeemer bulletin:
She is one of eight women who, along with the Blessed Virgin Mary, are commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass. She was a young Christian woman who vowed to live her life in service to Christ. Her mother tried to arrange a marriage for her with a pagan. Lucy knew her mother could not be swayed by a young girl's vow, so she devised a plan to convince her mother that Christ was the better partner for life. Lucy used ***lacuna*** to persuade her mother to give the dowry money to the poor & allow her to commit her life to God. The rejected bridegroom was deeply angered & betrayed Lucy's faith to the governor Paschasius. The governor attempted to force her into defilement & after several attempts murdered her.
Quoth the Holy Family bulletin:
Lucy died at Syracuse more likely during the persecution of Diocletian. Tradition holds that a disappointed suitor accused Lucy of being a Christian & she was executed in Syracuse (Sicily) in the year 304. From antiquity her cult spread throughout the Church, & her name was therefore introduced into the Roman Canon (the First Eucharistic Prayer).
'Tis the feast of Blessed Antonio Grassi, Priest, C.O. (1592-1671): Blessed-link & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings
Advent Weekday
The Book of Zephaniah, chapter three, verses one, two, & nine thru thirteen;
Psalm Thirty-four, verses two, three, six, seven, seventeen thru nineteen, & twenty-three;
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter twenty-one, verses twenty-eight thru thirty-two;

or, for St. Lucy:
The Second Letter to the Corinthians, chapter ten, verse seventeen thru chapter eleven, verse two;
Psalm Thirty-one, verse six;
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter twenty-five, verses one thru thirteen.

Individual Reading
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter six (verses one thru thirty-four).

Commentary: Teaching about Almsgiving (6:1-4), Teaching about Prayer (6:5-8), The Lord's Prayer (6:9-15), Teaching about Fasting (6:16-18), Treasure in Heaven (6:19-21), the Light of the Body (6:22&23), God & Money (6:24), & Dependence on God (6:25-34).

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day


The Klezmonauts, "Carol of the Bells" from Oy to the World! A Klezmer Christmas

Commentary: I always like the "Carol of the Bells," but The Klezmonauts' rendition is particularly, hauntingly beautiful. Fun fact: "Carol of the Bells" is a relatively new Christmas carol, having been composed in 1914.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day


José Feliciano, "Feliz Navidad" via iTunes (from Feliz Navidad) (The Last Angry Man)

Commentary:
"Feliz Navidad,
Feliz Navidad,
Feliz Navidad, próspero año y felicidad.

"I wanna wish you a merry Christmas,
"I wanna wish you a merry Christmas,
"I wanna wish you a merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart!…"

Project BLACK MAMBA: Advent

'Tis the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe: Our Lady-link ūna, Our Lady-link duae, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine. Quoth the Holy Redeemer bulletin:
The Blessed Mother arranged the flowers herself in Juan's tilma (a burlap-type cloak) & instructed him to open the cloak only upon return to the bishop. Here are four literally awesome facts about the tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe:

It has qualities that humanly impossible to replicate.

People says it's just a painting, yet the
tilma has outlived them all, in time & in quality.

The
tilma has shown characteristics startlingly like a living human body.

It appears to to be virtually indestructible.
Quoth the Holy Family bulletin:
Words addressed to (St.) Juan Diego (& us) at Guadalupe: "Listen, put it into my heart, my youngest & dearest son, that the thing that frightens you, the thing that afflicts you, is nothing: Do not let it disturb you. Am I not here, I who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow & protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need something more? Let nothing else worry you or disturb you."
'Tis also the feast of Saint Finnian of Clonard, Abbot (circa 470-549): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings
The Book of Zechariah, chapter two, verses fourteen thru seventeen;
or, the Book of Revelation, chapter eleven, verse nineteen(a) & chapter twelve, verses one thru six & ten(a,b);
The Book of Judith, chapter thirteen, verses eighteen(b,c,d,e,) & nineteen;
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter one, verses twenty-six thru thirty-eight;
or, the Gospel according to Luke, chapter one, verses thirty-nine thru forty-seven.

Individual Reading
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter five (verses one thru forty-eight).

Commentary: The Sermon on the Mount (5:1&2), the Beatitudes (5:3-12), the Similes of Salt & Light (5:13-16), Teaching about the Law (5:17-20), Teaching about Anger (5:21-26), Teaching about Adultery (5:27-30), Teaching about Divorce (5:31&32), Teaching about Oaths (5:33-37), Teaching about Retaliation (5:38-42), & Love of Enemies (5:43-48).

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Explorers' Club, № DXXVII

Operation AXIOM: The World War
13 December 1916: "White Friday"—An avalanche on Mount Marmolada crushed almost three hundred Austro-Hungarian soldiers; weather conditions were ideal for avalanches—heavy snowfall followed by rapid warming—but both the Austrians & the Italians also fired artillery into the others' snowpacks to induce avalanches, killing as many as 10,000 on both sides throughout December.





Lest we forget.

Commentary: As the glaciers in the Alps shift & recede, corpses & materiel from the First World War are occasionally found, churned up after a century entombed in the ice & the snow.

Project BLACK MAMBA: Third Sunday of Advent

'Tis the Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday: Advent-link & Wikipedia-link Gaudete.

Otherwise, 11 December would be the feast of Saint Damasus I, Pope (circa 305-384), thirty-seventh Bishop of Rome: Saint-link ūnus, Saint-link duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine.Quoth the Holy Family bulletin:
Damasus was born in Spain around the year 305 & during a period of great upheaval in the Church was ordained Bishop of Rome in 366. He summon synods to work against schismatics & heretics & widely promoted the cult of martyrs whose burial places he adorned with sacred verse. During his pontificate, Christianity was declared the official religon of the Roman state, & Latin became the principal liturgical language as part of the pope's reforms. His encouragement of Saint Jerome's (30 September) biblical studies led to the Vulgate, the Latin translation of Scripture which twelve centuries later the Council of Trent declared to be "authentic in public readings, disputations, preaching." He died in 384.
'Twould also be the feast of Blessed Arthur Bell, Priest & Martyr, O.F.M. (1590-1643), martyred by the Roundhead Parliament, one of the Eighty-five Martyrs of England & Wales: Martyr-link & Wikipedia-link; Wikipedia-link LXXXV.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings
The Book of Isaiah, chapter thirty-five, verses one thru six(a) & ten;
Psalm One Hundred Forty-six, verses six thru ten;
The Letter of James, chapter five, verses seven thru ten;
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter eleven, verses two thru eleven.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the 3rd Sunday of Advent

Relativity, "O Little Town of Bethlehem" from Joy to the World (The Last Angry Man)

Commentary: Relativity is a vocal group composed of relatives—my brother, his wife, her sister, & their brother. The name is unfortunate, but the voices are beautiful.
"O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray.
Cast out our sin and enter in,
Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell,
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel."

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Project BLACK MAMBA: Advent

'Tis the feast of Our Lady of Loreto & the Translation of the Holy House: Our Lady-link, Santa Casa-link, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine.

'Tis also the feast of Saint Miltiades, Pope (died 314), thirty-second Bishop of Rome: Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Tis also the feast of Saints Edmund Gennings, Polydore Plasden, & Eustace White, Priests; & Swithun Wells, Martyrs (died 1591), martyred in the reign of the queen Elizabeth I, four of the Forty Martyrs of England & Wales: Martyr-link Echo Golf & Wikipedia-link Echo Golf, Martyr-link Papa Papa & Wikipedia-link Papa Papa, Martyr-link Echo Whiskey & Wikipedia-link Echo Whiskey, & Martyr-link Sierra Whiskey & Wikipedia-link Sierra Whiskey; Wikipedia-link XL.

'Tis also the feast of Saint John Roberts, Priest & Martyr, O.S.B. (1577-1610), martyred in the reign of the king James VI & I, one of the Forty Martyrs of England & Wales: Martyr-link & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings
The Book of Sirach, chapter forty-eight, verses one thru four, nine, ten, & eleven;
Psalm Eighty, verses two(a,c), three(b), fifteen, sixteen, eighteen, & nineteen;
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter seventeen, verses nine(a) & ten thru thirteen.

Individual Reading
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter three (verses one thru seventeen);
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter four (verses one thru twenty-five).

Commentary: II. The Proclamation of the Kingdom: The Preaching of John the Baptist (3:1-12), the Baptism of Jesus (3:13-17), the Temptation of Jesus (4:1-11), the Beginning of the Galilean Ministry (4:12-17), the Call of the First Disciples (4:18-22), & Ministering to a Great Multitude (4:23-25).

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day

Barenaked Ladies, "Jingle Bells" from Barenaked for the Holidays (The Last Angry Man)

Commentary: This rendition of "Jingle Bells" is two songs in one. The front half of the almost four-minute track is solemn, almost maudlin; the back half is manic, including the Batman-themed variant lyrics every kid learns on the playground.
"Jingle bells, Batman smells,
Robin laid an egg,
Batmobile lost its wheel,
And the Joker got away!…"

Friday, December 9, 2016

Project BLACK MAMBA: The Advent Daily Double

Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (1474-1548): Saint-link ūnus, Saint-link duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine. Quoth the Holy Redeemer bulletin:
He is a native of Mexico, & the first… indigenous saint from the Americas. He is said to have been granted an apparition of the Virgin Mary on four separate occasions in December 1531 at the hill of Tepeyac, then outside but not will within metropolitan Mexico City.
Quoth the Holy Family bulletin:
First called Cuauhtlatohuac ("the eagle who speaks"), Juan Diego's name is forever linked with Our Lady of Guadalupe because it was to him that she first appeared at Tepeyac Hill on 9 December 1531. The most famous part of his story is told in connection with the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on 12 December. After the roses gathered in his tilma were transformed into the miraculous image of Our Lady, however, little more is said about Juan Diego. In time he lived near the shrine constructed at Tepeyac, revered as a holy, unselfish, & compassionate catechist who taught by word & especially by example.
I keep in my bedroom a small statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe & next to it a laminated prayer card bearing the image of St. Juan Diego kneeling before Our Lady, with the roses filling his tilma.

'Tis also the feast of Saint Valeria of Limoges, Martyr (third century, A.K.A. Valerie), martyred by beheading, a cephalophore: Martyr-link & Wikipedia-link; Wikipedia-link cephalophore.

'Tis also the feast of Saint Peter Fourier, Priest, C.R.S.A. (1565-1640), founder of the Congregation of Notre Dame & the Congregation of Our Savior: Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings
Advent Weekday
The Book of Isaiah, chapter forty-eight, verses seventeen, eighteen, & nineteen;
Psalm One, verses one thru four & six;
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter eleven, verses sixteen thru nineteen;

or, for St. Juan Diego:
The Book of Deuteronomy, chapter six, verses three thru nine;
Psalm One Hundred Thirty-one;
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter eleven, verses twenty-five thru thirty.

Individual Reading
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter one (verses one thru twenty-five);
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter two (verses one thru twenty-three).

Commentary: I still need to finish the Book of Job, but it's like pulling teeth. I'm taking the advice from Rediscover Jesus to re-read the Gospels, fifteen minutes a day (or two chapters, whichever takes longer).

I. The Infancy Narrative: The Genealogy of Jesus (1:1-17), the Birth of Jesus (1:17-25), the Visit of the Magi (2:1-12), the Flight to Egypt (2:13-15), the Massacre of the Infants (2:16-18), & the Return from Egypt (2:19-23).


* * * * *

Friday, 2 December was the feast of Saint Silverius, Pope (circa 480-537), fifty-eighth Bishop of Rome: Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine. I still think Pope St. Silverius should be recognized as a martyr.

'Twas also the feast of Blessed John of Ruusbroec, Priest (circa 1293-1381, A.K.A. Jan van Ruysbroeck): Blessed-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Twas also the feast of Blessed Rafał Chyliński, Priest, O.F.M. Conv. (1694-1741, A.K.A. Melchor Chyliński): Blessed-link ūnus, Blessed-link duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings
The Book of Isaiah, chapter twenty-nine, verses seventeen thru twenty-four;
Psalm Twenty-seven, verses one, four, thirteen, & fourteen;
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter nine, verses twenty-seven thru thirty-one.