Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Victors

(№ 3) Ohio State 42-41 Michigan
7-5, Big Ten 3-5

Holy smoke! Never in a million years did I suspect that we would be able to hang with the hated Buckeyes in the second half. I disagree with the decision to go for the two-point conversion (& the lead) after the final touchdown & I would prefer to have seen us kick for the tie, but I respect the aggression behind the decision to chance the game on that one play. The play called was foolish & never had a chance of succeeding, but that is a discrete issue from the decision to go for two instead of kick for the tie. That the valiant Wolverines were even in a position to make that decision—high-probability play for the tie or low-probability play for the tie—is astonishing. A loss is a loss, & I hate losing to the hated Buckeyes, but this loss does not sting nearly as much as the loss I was anticipating. I honestly thought that we would be run right out of the stadium. The beauty of being a pessimist is that you are often pleasantly surprised when things aren't as bad as you'd thought that would be. I cannot cheer a loss, but I'm not as down in the dumps as I'd anticipated.

That said, even though we were within one play of potentially beating the hated Buckeyes, I still maintain that Coach Brady Hoke must be fired with immediate effect. If we had managed to play this well in our losses to the dastardly Spartans, the unwelcome Cornhuskers, & the tenacious Hawkeyes, we surely would not have lost all three of those games. If the valiant Wolverines had played this well in their triple overtime time victory over the plucky Wildcats, they would have on that game in regulation time. That we played as well as we did in to-day's loss is a damning indictment of Hoke & his bumbing coaching staff. They either could not motivate their players for any game other than Ohio State or they were not able to devise a successful game plan for any other game. Or worse, both. In any event, there is clear evidence that whatever Hoke's achievements as a recruiter, he is simply not a good enough game day coach for us to thrive as Michigan should, for Michigan to contend for the Big Ten championship. Competing for the Big Ten title is the standard to which Michigan coaches are held, & we dare not accept anything less. As long as Brady Hoke remains at the reins of the valiant Wolverines, we are accepting a lesser standard of excellence, & that is not Michigan football. We have lost five games on the year, including four of the five games we contested in the month of November. That is unacceptable, & heads must roll. Brady Hoke must be fired.

I still love "the Game"!

Next: An undetermined bowl game, probably not on New Year's Day.

Go Blue!

The Victors (Halftime Report)

Michigan 21-21 Ohio State (№ 3)

Well, that was unexpected. There were moments in the first half when the valiant Wolverines' offense looked as ill-conceived & poorly-executed as one would expect from a unit under the buffoonish Al Borges's coordination, but there were also moments when that same offense looked, dare I say it, competent. Able, even! The hated Buckeyes' legions of fair weather fans were surely wetting themselves through much of that first half, as they anticipated (as did I) that their club would run away with this game from the opening kickoff. That alone, imagining their dismay, makes this day worthwhile. We will be overwhelmed & beaten down in the second half—remember that Coach Brady Hoke & his bumbling staff lack the mental capacity to make the halftime adjustments that are de rigueur for a major college football club—but for thirty minutes at least the underachieving valiant Wolverines played the much-lauded hated Buckeyes dead even. That alone will be enough to guarantee Coach Hoke another year at the helm of the Maize & Blue &, alas, might be enough to buy the buffoonish Borges another year too. I love "the Game"!

Go Blue!
Go Blue! Beat Ohio!

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


"O Varsity, we're for you,
Here for you to cheer for you,
We have no fear for you, O Varsity!"

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Victors

About "the Game" & the rivalry 'twixt the valiant Wolverines of the University of Michigan & the hated Buckeyes of THE (Ohio State University)—or "the University of Ohio State" as it has been known to some of its most lauded recruits—let me just say this: There is a some sung by some Buckeyes, a reputedly humorous little ditty that serves as both a clever skewering of the foibles of sacred Michigan (the state, not the university specifically) & a persuasive acclamation of the myriad virtues of the Ohioans. It goes as follows:
I don't give a damn for the whole state of Michigan!
The whole state of Michigan, the whole state of Michigan,
I don't give a damn for the whole state of Michigan,
I'm from Ohio!
How is one to respond in the face of such poetry, such deft lyrical pulchritude? It is interesting to note that there is no similar Michigander song about Ohio. While many valiant Wolverines, your humble narrator amongst them, certainly harbor a deep & abiding loathing for the hated Buckeyes & indeed the whole State of Ohio, this is not paramount in our view of the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry. We praise the valiant Wolverines before we condemn the hated Buckeyes; we think first of ourselves & only after that to the external enemy. To the hated Buckeyes, the external enemy is all but all there is. They define themselves by opposition, by against what they stand, not for what. Note that in just four lines the word "Michigan" appears four times, the word "Ohio" but once. Ohio, which became a state in the Union over three decades before Michigan, which boasts a larger population than Michigan, & which plays a more determinative rôle in our national electoral politics than does Michigan, nevertheless harbors a collective sense of inferiority to Michigan. This is right & proper, for Ohio is inferior to Michigan & Ohioans are inferior to Michiganders, yet it remains remarkable as an almost singular instance in which reason & truth have been able to get through Ohio's proverbial thick skull.

To-morrow, in the friendly confines of Michigan Stadium, the "Big House," the valiant Wolverines (7-4, Big Ten 3-4) will take to the gridiron against the hated Buckeyes (11-0, Big Ten 7-0). The outcome of the contest is in little doubt, though as the old saw says, any club can beat any other club on any given Saturday & that is why they play the games. Win or lose, the valiant Wolverines will take the field in the defense of the light, in defense of knowledge & wisdom against ignorance & foolishness; the cause is worthy even when we are not. Win or lose, the magnificent Michigan Marching Band will stay play "The Victors."

Go Blue!
The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Screamin'Jay Hawkins, "I Put a Spell On You" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "I Put a Spell On You" was written to be performed straight, as a blues ballad, & only became as gloriously weird as it is because of the copious imbibing of libations during the recording session. Thanks, alcohol!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of Thanksgiving
Maurice Chevalier & the M.G.M. Studio Orchestra, "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: From the triumph of cinema that is the motion picture Gigi.

"Thank heaven for little girls,
For little girls get bigger every day,
Thank Heaven for little girls,
They grow up in the most delightful ways…"

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of Hanukkah
Barenaked Ladies, "Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah" from Barenaked for the Holidays (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I promised no more Christmas music for a fortnight, not no holiday music of any stripe, & after all, Hanukkah began to-day at sundown. Happy Hanukkah to all this Gentile's Hebrew brethren!


In the last fortnight, I have lost five pounds (0.4 stone). This despite engaging in only minimal exercise & snacking way, way too much. I say this not to boast of my ability to lose weight without really trying (far from it, because I have so much weight to lose that it will require trying very, very hard), but to emphasize the importance of quantification. Heretofore, I've often said that I need to lose weight & even identified a target weight—two hundred eleven pounds, or fifteen stone—but I've weighed myself so periodically as to make any measurement of weight loss or gain all but meaningless. As with my annual Mass attendance goal, the numbers are not themselves the objective. Attending Mass fifty-two time per annum would itself be meaningless, but as I've discovered I cannot attend Mass that often without it affecting my life in other ways, without becoming more conscious of the Christian duties of charity & generosity to my fellow man. In the same way, tracking my weight is a means to an end, not an end in itself. What matters are the dietary & exercise reforms I undertake to achieve the target weight, not the weight itself. I intend to weigh myself at least fortnightly, if not weekly, going forward, because I shall need that pool of data to know what it & what is not working.

Thanksgiving & the Christmastide are going to be severe trials, but I know that if I simply wait 'til after the new year to start regularly weighing myself, then I might as well wait 'til kingdom come. He who hesitates, as I have so very, very often, is lost. Five pounds down, a great many more to go.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Savage Wars of Peace

Regarding the recent fruits of negotiations in Geneva over Iran's bid to develop the atomic bomb, the Iranians came away from the table insisting that the agreement guarantees their right to enrich uranium, the Russians came away from the table insisting that the agreement guarantees Iran's right to enrich uranium, & yet Secretary of State Kerry came away from the table insisting that the agreement does not guarantee Iran's right to enrich uranium. Iran & Russia share one interpretation of an international accord while the United States holds a dissenting view. That sounds oddly familiar. Hmmm, where else could we have seen that recently? Ah, yes, Syria. For over two years the White House & Foggy Bottom huffed & puffed & threatened to blow "President" Assad's house down; "Assad must go" was the refrain, the rebel Syrian National Coalition was recognized as the country's legitimate government. Yet, push come to shove over Syria's atrocious use of chemical weapons, Iran & Russia both insisted that Assad must stay, must retain his grip over Syria---& the U.S. agreed, relegitmizing the Assad regime in the agreement to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons infrastructure & destroy the country's chemical weapons stockpiles. The Americans said one thing, the Iranians & the Russians said something else, & in the end the Iranian & Russian position prevailed. So, in the case of Geneva, the easing of sanctions, & the "freeze" of Iran's nuclear weapons initiative, the Americans say one thin, the Iranians & Russians say something else. Whose position do we really expect to prevail?

Oh, yes, & while all this goes on, the slaughter in Syria continues unabated. Assad remains in power, at least as much as he has since the uprising became two & a half years hence. His forces continue to be bolstered by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps & Lebanon's Hezbollah militia. The "Geneva II" peace talks are scheduled to begin in late January, still two months away, but to what purpose? The Supreme Military Council (S.M.C.) of the Free Syrian Army, the acceptable "pro-Western" rebels, have announced that they will not take part & that they will not stop fighting during negotiations. So, even if an accord is reached betwixt the Syrian Arab Republic (Assad) & the Syrian National Coalition (exiles, defectors, & diplomats with no constituency in Syria & no power on the ground), what will that matter? The National Coalition exercises no power over the S.M.C. & the S.M.C. is itself being marginalized by a new umbrella group called the Islamic Front. The Islamic Front aren't implacable foes of civilization like the al-Nusra Front & the Islamic State of Iraq & al-Sham (the local al-Qaeda affiliate), but neither are they eager to ally with the Western powers like the S.M.C. Assad remains in power & that looks increasingly like not the worst possible outcome of the Syrian civil war. The window for fostering a pro-Western rebellion has closed as a direct consequence of our hesitation & indecision.

I've been prophesying a "parade of horrors" ever since then-Senator Obama's election in November of '08. Never did I imagine the parade would be quite so horrible.

Liberty & Union: Obamboozled
President Obama's foreign policy seems to be predicated on the belief that American power is always a malign influence, & that if only America retreats from the world that goodness & light will reign in our absence. The reality is altogether different, & as America under Mr. Obama actively projects weakness & promotes disengagement, truly scary actors arise to fill the power vacuum we leave behind.

I am undecided as to the best imagery for the president. Is he the Pharaoh Akhenaten, given over to vainglory as he attempts to tear down the polytheistic Egyptian religion & construct a new monotheistic faith with himself as the one god's only representative on Earth? Or is he the Emperor Nero, given over to madness & playing his fiddle as Rome burns all around? Both are satisfying, but which is most apropos? Decisions, decisions.

Operation AXIOM

Ninety-one years ago to the day, 26 November 1922, the archæologist Howard Carter (1874-1939) & his patron, Lord Carnarvon (1866-1923), first breached KV62, the jaw-dropping & nearly unspoiled tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamun (c. 1341-1323), A.K.A. "King Tut" or "the Boy King." The tomb is undoubtedly the most spectacular find in Egypt's Valley of the King & sparked a renewed interest in Egyptology. Exhibitions of the treasures & artifacts from Tutankhamun's tomb continue to the tour the world right down to the present day, & continue to draw crowds in their multitudes. The "curse of the pharaohs" is pure hokum, but originated with the opening of King Tut's tomb & endures in our popular culture. The astonishing tomb of the eighteenth dynasty pharaoh Tutankhamun was rediscovered by Howard Cater & Lord Carnarvon, after being buried in the sand for over three thousand years, ninety-one years ago to-day.

Carnarvon: "Can you see anything?"
Carter: "Yes, wonderful things."

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Steve Martin & the Toot Uncommons, "King Tut" (live) via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "King Tut" was also the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. a scant ten days ago. I have no issue with the same song being chosen as the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. multiple times, but less than a fortnight is too close for comfort. What I suspect happened is that I was alerted to the approaching anniversary of the opening of KV62, which brought "King Tut" to mind. To-day, I considered using the other version of "King Tut" in my library, performed by Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers, but it just isn't the same as the original, performed by Martin & the "Toot Uncommons" (otherwise known as the Nitty Gritty Band). There is simply no other song for the anniversary of the discovery of King Tut's tomb than "King Tut."

"He gave his life—for tourism."

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Carl Orff, "O Fortuna" (from Carmina Burana) from Summon the Heroes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: This rendition of "O Fortuna" was performed by the Tanglewood Festival Chorus & the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

The Victors

Saturday, 23 November 2013
Iowa 24-21 Michigan
7-4, Big Ten 3-4

My post-game reaction from the FaceSpace:
Iowa turned the ball over four times, & still won! We had a +3 turnover margin, & still lost! We were shut out in the second half, outscored 17-0! Brady Hoke loves Michigan Football, but he's just not up to the job. Al Borges's offense is impotent, & yet Hoke will take no action. Hoke & his bumbling staff are outcoached in nearly every contest. Brady Hoke must be fired.

Go Blue!
My post-game reactions from the Twitter:
@DaveBrandonAD @umichfootball Go Blue! #firehoke #fireborges

@DaveBrandonAD @umichfootball Iowa 24-21 Michigan, & we were outscored 17-0 in the 2nd half! Borges's offense does not work! #fireborges

@DaveBrandonAD @umichfootball Wolverines trounced in the 2nd half, no halftime adjustments from the bumbling coaching staff #firehoke
If anything, things are even more bleak than they appear. Consider: the valiant Wolverines' three Big Ten victories have been over the wily Hoosiers, the luckless Golden Gophers, & the plucky Wildcats. Indiana & Minnesota are long-benighted programs that are still stumbling toward respectability. Jerry Kill has a record of below .500 at Minnesota, but he is beloved because it is just barely below .500, a feat at Minnesota; Indiana is in the first year of trying to rebrand themselves as the Big Ten's Oregon: all offense & fancy-pants uniforms. Northwestern are the best seven-loss club in the country, but they still have seven consecutive losses, meaning they are absolute masters at pulling defeat from the jaws of victory. Those of the clubs Michigan has defeated in conference play. Also, our four losses should be six, because only by the thinnest or margins & the grace of the heathen football gods did the valiant Wolverines triumph over genuinely inferior competition like Akron & U. Conn.

The tenacious Hawkeyes turned the ball over four times in the course of Saturday's contest, & yet at halftime the valiant Wolverines possessed only a two-score lead. Both of our offensive touchdowns came on short fields, one following an interception & the other a bad punt; not once in the game did we drive from our own territory to score against Iowa. We did not score at all in the second half, providing an all too horribly clear example of how Coach Hoke & his staff of bumblers are out of their depth; they were thoroughly outcoached by their counterparts lead by Iowa's Coach Ferentz. Those who defend Hoke & disagree with my insistence that he must be fired, which I know is still a minority opinion, do so by insisting that all will be well once the valiant Wolverines' starting lineup is filled with Hoke & co.'s own recruits, instead of seniors left over from Rich Rod's tenure. To them I retort: Even once Hoke has the personnel he wants, how does that change his inability to coach to the high level required to compete & succeed in the Big Ten? The tenacious Hawkeyes' coaches went into halftime & came up with a revised game plan to overcome their club's first-half deficiencies, a game plan for which the valiant Wolverines' coaches had no answer. We were both outplayed & outcoached on Saturday. Doom, doom, doom.

Brady Hoke must be fired. It is only a matter of time before everyone, including Athletic Director Dave Brandon & the U. of M. Board of Regents, realize this, & a question of how much damage to Michigan football Hoke & his staff of bumblers inflict before that realization dawns.

Go Blue!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Explorers' Club, № CCCLXVIII

The Arian Heresy, Part II: Eusebius of Nicodemia (d. 341), the First Synod of Tyre (335), Arian missionary success beyond the borders of the Empire, & the persecution of Trinitarians, including exile & execution.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Klezmonauts, "Deck the Halls" from Oy to the World: A Klezmer Christmas (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Too early for Christmas music? I agree, but there are special circumstances that render today's choice of the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. palatable. First, the concluding song at this morning's Mass was "The King of Glory Comes," one of my favorites. The fellow sitting next to me, one of my C.R.H.P. brothers, remarked positively, "This sounds like Jewish music," by which he meant, in his own ham-fisted way, that it reminded him of klezmer or other music associated with Eastern European Jewish immigrants to the United States. Inexact & arguably unfortunate though his choice of words might have been, he was right: the composer of "The King of Glory Comes" is listed as being Israeli. Second, I spent this afternoon serving at a distaff potluck at church, the third annual Advent Tea. In addition to the tea & treats, the ladies enjoyed music & a dramatic group reading of the Nativity. To-day is the Solemnity of Christ the King, the last Sunday in ordinary time, meaning Advent begins next Sunday, preparing the way for the Christmastide. You'd have to ask the ladies why they had their Advent Tea to-day & not next Sunday, Advent Sunday, but for to-day, when Advent Tea is combined with "The King of Glory Comes," I'm of a humor for some Christmas klezmer, which means the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. could only have come from the Klezmonauts.

There won't be any more Christmas music for a fortnight or more, I promise.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The other day, I espied a Mini Cooper S bearing the vanity license plate ZIPPY. Well done, sir! The marketing folks at B.M.W. must be very pleased. "Zippy" was replete with racing stripes; the Mini Cooper is so preposterous looking in any event that it is one of the few vehicles that can pull off racing stripes without the owner coming off as a complete buffoon.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Less Than Jake, "Summon Monsters" from GNV FLA (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Initially, two songs suggested themselves as the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. Musically, I was drawn to "Summon Monsters," but lyrically, I was drawn to "Harvey Wallbanger" from Greetings & Salutations from Less Than Jake. I listened to both, at which point "Summon Monsters" (which I persistently mistake as being titled "Summoning Monsters") became the clear choice.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Operation AXIOM

Fifty years ago to-day, 22 November 1963, C. S. Lewis (born 1898) & Aldous Huxley (born 1894) both died. The lamentations for the passing of these two literary titans were somewhat muted due to the magpie nature of men's minds; elsewhere on the same day, something shinier had happened & captured all the world's attention. Lewis was most famous for his heptalogy of children's high fantasy novels, The Chronicles of Narnia; Huxley was best known for his dystopian masterpiece, Brave New World. I read most though not all of the Narnia novels as a boy; as an adult I've read The Screwtape Letters & I wish to read more of Lewis's apologetics, such as Mere Christianity & God in the Dock. Despite enjoying (by which I mean being profoundly terrified by) Brave New World, I've never felt the least inclination to read anything else by Huxley; this is likely at least partially a product of my contempt for the intellectual deficiency ('tis indulgence in laziness & hucksterism) of seeking the divine through the use of mind-altering drugs. Aldous Huxley & C. S. Lewis perished, fifty years ago to the day.

Requiescat in pace.

I prepared & scheduled for robotic publication today's R.B.D.S.O.T.D. post last night, before I retired, knowing that this morning I would be harried & rushed to leave the house. When I awoke & dressed, I was confronted with the coincidence that with the pirate shanty "Shiver Me Timbers" as the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. & the commentary to same making mention of the forthcoming television series Black Sails, supposedly a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson's classic tale of pirates & buried treasure, Treasure Island, that to-day's boxer shorts should be one of the three pairs I own featuring a skull & crossbones pattern. I leave ye with the words of plain, simple Garak, "I believe in coincidence. Coincidences happen every day. But I don't trust coincidence."
The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Real Can of Yams, "Shiver Me Timbers" from CODENAME: Koala (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I cannot say that I am excited by the prospect of the new television series Black Sails, both because Starz does not have a reputation for producing programming of quality & because Treasure Island is one of my favorite novels, prompting justifiable fear that this "prequel" series will be an abomination. I can say, however, that I am excited by the promotional image displayed below, a photograph of a man cleverly manipulated to look like the skull & crossbones of a pirate's Jolly Roger.

"A pirate's life for me!"

Thursday, November 21, 2013


After over a decade of yeoman's work, my trifold wallet, distinguished by the white skull & crossbones emblem on the black leathern material & the small chain connecting it to my belt, has given up the ghost. Signs of wear & tear had been accumulating, but the end did not come 'til the loop in which the chain was anchored tore irreparably. I liked the chain, though the occasions on which it could acceptably be worn were growing fewer with every passing year; I loved the skull & crossbones, & did not give a hoot if it looked infantile in the eyes of others. I had known this day was coming, & had prepared. The part of the old wallet I no longer liked was its trifold construction, so the new wallet is of a much slimmer bifold design. My new wallet, composed of fabric with a leathern lining, sports a fetching gray & black plaid pattern; the style is not as dynamic as the old skull & crossbones, but it is less provocative, less showy. I could have searched for a more like-for-like replacement for the old stalwart, but I knew that the time had come to make a change, even if I could not force myself to make it 'til that old stalwart had given everything it had to give.

This is not a matter of conformity; I did not need a more adult wallet just because of my advanced age. This is a matter of signaling, of how I present myself to others. I cherish my younger self's rants & raves against the pernicious, degrading influence of conformity for conformity's sake. To this day I do not disagree with his critique. But that critique was incomplete, for he was blinded by his arrogance & his sense of isolation; so much of what he said was not merely defiant, but indeed defensive. We are social creatures. We are meant to be social creatures. What did Cain say? "Am I my brother's keeper?" We are meant to be, if not our brother's keeper, then certainly our brother's caretaker & his guardian. I know what the skull & crossbones on my old wallet meant to be, but in my pride I ignored, I openly disdained how it might be perceived as others, & how those perceptions, however wrong they might be, might prevent me from discharging my duty to care for the needs, both physical & spiritual, of those others. Conformity for a sake of conformity consists of an unhealthy denial of the self; at the same time, nonconformity for the sake of nonconformity is an equally unhealthy denial of the self, because it likewise leads to the external determination of one's actions. The plaid of my new wallet is pleasing to mine eyes, & less ostentatious than the skull & crossbones of the old wallet. The bifold design is superior in function to the old trifold; the plaid design is,if not superior, at least more appropriate in form than the old skull & crossbones.

None of this should be viewed as a repudiation of my beloved skull-&-crossbones motiff. The skull & crossbones inked on my left forearm is a daily source of delight & satisfaction. We can all use a daily reminder that this life is finite, that death is not something strange & foreign but the constant companion of life & the fate that awaits us all in the fullness of time. These fleeting lives we lead, be they showered in shame or glory, lead but to the grave, lead but to the conqueror worm & bones bleached in the death rays of the Accursed Sun. All is vanity. Wishing to put a little more skull & crossbones back into my life after the demise of the old wallet, I stuck a cartoony skull & crossbones sticker to the back of my mobile 'phone.

Operation AXIOM
Have I mentioned how happy I'll be once the fiftieth anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination passes & is behind us? My mother is of the perfect age & disposition to have bought the myth of the "White House Camelot" look, line, & sinker. She was a ten-year-old Catholic schoolgirl, the daughter of trades-union-member Democratic parents, when President Kennedy was inaugurated in January 1961. The first Catholic president! So young & so handsome! Jackie was so glamorous! Little kids in the White House! (Of course, nothing in his life became President Kennedy so well as his death, which erased from history at a stroke the rancor & the corruption of the 1960 presidential contest, the disastrous arrogance of Robert Strange McNamara & his "Whiz Kids," & his inability to shepherd any of his major policies through a friendly, Democratic Congress. Kennedy had more success as a martyr, when President Johnson forced through Kennedy's major proposals in the years after the assassination. But I digress.) The myth of Camelot! Worse, moving beyond my mother back to the broader popular culture, conspiracy theories & the grassy knoll! I will be only too happy once we can say good-bye to all that. I might even do a little happy dance. Yes, I rather like that idea. I will do a little happy dance was all this fiftieth anniversary of the assassination ballyhoo is behind us.
The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "Devil's Night Out" (live) from Live from the Middle East (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I started thinking about "Devil's Night Out" last night, as I made my way home from catechism class. Thoughts unworthy of a Christian? Methinks not. One, the song is meant as fun, as recreation, not as serious theology. Two, despite being called, & pray pardon the language, "that evil motherfucker," "the Devil" in "Devil's Night Out" is clearly not the actual Devil but a frivolous, cartoon caricature of a devil. As was so eloquently expressed on Sports Night, "You've got to learn to separate the stuff from the stuff."

"…But the Devil is back, so girls, dry your tears.

"In his favorite club, in his favorite seat,
I saw the Devil, wingtip shoes on his feet,
Porkpie hat on his head, he was digging the beat,
And the band ripped like demons when he screamed, 'Turn up the heat!'

"The Devil was drinking and dancing up a storm,
The band was so hot my beer got warm,
Just when I thought it would all cool down,
That evil motherfucker screamed, 'Burn this place down!'"

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Tom Jones & Johnnie Spence, "I Can't Turn You Loose" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Most persons know "I Can't Turn You Loose" as an instrumental piece, the introductory music for the Blues Brothers. The song was written & first recorded by the late, great Otis Redding. Being used to "I Can't Turn You Loose" as part of the Blues Brothers Rhythm & Blues Revue, Tom Jones's version seems almost surreal, like quite a lot of things about Tom Jones, now that I think about it.

Dienstag, 19 November
John Williams featuring the Mormon Tabernacle Choir & the Utah Symphony Orchestra, "Call of the Champions (The Official Theme of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games)" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I disdain the Olmpics, but I revel in the music of John Williams.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Queue

I found much of value in The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic, but also much that I will not call useless but which I will call irksome. I would like to say that The Four Signs was written in an occasionally grating "self-help" style, except I've never read a self-help book, nor have I read much about them, so I cannot comment with any accuracy upon the comparison. Nevertheless, there was much of value, especially the recurrent theme of intentionality. Also, those four signs? Prayer, study, generosity, & evangelization. I'm working on being a more dynamic Catholic.

The Evils of Revolution appears to be comprised of excerpts from Reflections on the Revolution in France. I've never read Burke, but everything I've read about him supports the idea that I am indeed a conservative in the Burkean mode. (By this I do not make any claim to his intelligence, grace, or kindliness of disposition.) Reading Burke strikes me as the best means to discern the truth of this supposition. Positive signs about, as the cover features this quotation, presumably for somewhere within this slim volume: "What is liberty without wisdom, and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils." To-day's world champions liberty without wisdom, & nakedly disdains the idea of virtue. Plain for all to see, evils abound.

Washington Irving, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" & "Rip Van Winkle"
Ross Douthat, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics
Matthew Kelly, The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic: How Engaging 1% of Catholics Could Change the World

Edmund Burke, The Evils of Revolution

F. J. Sheed, Theology for Beginners
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Swords of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Synthetic Men of Mars
Sir Ernest Shackleton, South: A Memoir of the Endurance Voyage
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Llana of Gathol
Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Carter of Mars
Richard Price, Clockers
Sir Richard Francis Burton, translator, "Sinbad the Sailor" from The Arabian Nights
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, or The Matter, Forme, & Power of a Common-wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civill ***shelved***

Urbi et Orbi | Lies, Damned Lies, & the News
This morning, I heard a startling story on N.P.R., about the enduring faith of those in the highly Catholic Philippines, faith that endured & in some cases was even strengthened in the wake of the typhoon's devastation. I posted the hyperlink to the story to the FaceSpace. I would republish it here, except that the comment following the story are truly frightful. The survivors are mocked & attacked for their faith, & their Catholicism is held to be the cause of the disaster. The comments are disgusting & I cannot in good conscience post their vile hate for all to read. A pal of decidedly left-wing sensibilities & no religious convictions shared my disgust, writing:
As for your disappointment with [the] commenters, I wholeheartedly share it. A reporter with The Detroit News I used to work with in my last job once told me that online comments for stories really ought to be set in a separate page, otherwise, those oft-vile comments are given same billing to a story that took hard work to create and publish.
My compliments for N.P.R. for the story, which neither endorses nor denigrates the faith of those it covers, but reports the facts of the situation & the reporter's impressions. I would hope that they would also find newsworthy the horrific lack of sympathy & basic human decency in the overwhelming number of their website's commenters.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Go Sailor, "Windy" from Go Sailor (T.L.A.M.)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Explorers' Club, № CCCLXVII

The Arian Heresy, Part I: Arius (256-336), the First Council of Nicaea (325), & the Nicene Creed.

Commentary: The Wikipedia's use of "Arianism" instead of "the Arian Heresy" is distressing, though hardly surprising. Calling that strain of anti-Trinitarianism "Arianism" smacks of relativism, of according Arius & his fellow-travelers' views with a credibility they do not deserve. If it is Arianism, than it is just an alternative interpretation of Christianity, implying that any one of the numerous strains of Christianity might all be equally true. The logical fallacy there, one that lies at the heart of all relativistic thought, is that if all of the competing, mutually exclusive theologies of Christianity are equally valid, then none of them can possibly be true. The vast majority of Christian opinion for the better part of two thousand years has been that "Arianism" was & is heretical, a crime against orthodoxy. To title the page "Arian heresy" would not necessitate that the editors of Wikipedia agreed with orthodox Trinitarianism, merely that the prevailing, orthodox Christian view is that those teachings are heretical. Alas, reason is in short supply these days & for all its usefulness, the Wikipedia is in the thrall of any number of anti-intellectual vanities that cannot stand up to the light of reason.

"The Arian Heresy" will be a three-episode series.
The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
William Shatner featuring Henry Rollins, "I Can't Get Behind That" from Has Been (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: A line from "I Can't Get Behind That" came to mind repeatedly yesterday morning & afternoon as I corralled the fallen leaves with our leaf blower. A specialized tool that is used but once or twice a year, 'tis held together by Red Green's & the MythBusters' favorite material, duct tape. The line, spoken by the great Shatner with a voice full of angered consternation:

"The leaf blowers: Is there anything more futile?"

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Victors

Michigan 27-19 Northwestern (3 O.T.)
7-3, Big Ten 3-3

I've had enough. Earlier this evening, I posted the following to the FaceSpace:
Brady Hoke must be fired with immediate effect. Fourth & two inside the opponents' five yard line, an ideal situation in which to kick a field goal to tie a low-scoring the game, & Hoke orders (or allows to be ordered) an ill-conceived running play that fails to achieve the necessary yardage. Yes, through a combination of ineptitude on the part of the plucky Wildcats (a club in the midst of a six-game losing streak) & excellent special-teams execution by the valiant Wolverines those same valiant Wolverines were eventually able to tie the game, & prevail in three overtime times, but that does not change the fact that Michigan should have tied the game earlier & that the literally last-second field goal should have been game-winning. Michigan will never win the Big Ten championship as long as Brady Hoke remains our head football coach. Brady Hoke must be fired.
I followed this up with a ranting trio of "tweets" on the Twitter:
@DaveBrandonAD @umichfootball Brady Hoke must be fired with immediate effect. Going for it on 4th & 2 in an all-field goal game? #FireHoke

@DaveBrandonAD @umichfootball Firing Al Borges is no longer enough. Brady Hoke must be fired immediately. G Blue! #FireHoke #FireBorges

Cato the Elder said, exceedingly often, "Carthage must be destroyed." I will similarly persist. Brady Hoke must be fired. Go Blue! #FireHoke
Nine points & zero third-down conversions in regulation time is not Michigan football. How much more obvious could it be that Coach Borges's offense has failed? Coach Hoke will not fire Borges, so Hoke himself must go. So long as Hoke stays, we will never again be champions.

Next: Iowa, our second consecutive road game. Fun fact: Brady Hoke has a losing record in Big Ten road games.

Go Blue!

Urbi et Orbi

Yesterday, I rose before sunup & attended confession before morning Mass (availing myself of the Sacraments of Reconciliation & the Eucharist). That marked the fifty-second time I had attended Mass this year, Anno Domini 2013. At long last, I achieved the attendance goal I first set for myself in '08 or '09; I set a new personal best for annual attendance approximately ten Masses ago in September. I was greatly aided in the achievement of this goal by the first weekend in October, & another earlier in the year, during which I attended all four of the weekend Masses at my parish, Holy Redeemer, in order to promote membership in the Knights of Columbus, but as I have always said, measurement is not the aim in & of itself. These two weekends were amazing experiences, as spending so much time in the presence of a miracle like the Eucharist can't help but have a profound influence on one's thinking, on one's dedication to holiness. I am a wretched sinner, in many ways the same wretch I have always been, but I am also a child of the Lord, the same child of the Lord I have always been. Getting to Mass with greater frequency & greater regularity has had the salutary effect for which I hoped. I am more cognizant of the Lord's calling, more intentional in my adherence to His Will. This morning, I again rose before sunup & attended a Bible study/prayer group called Saint Joseph Covenant Keepers. The work continues, to arm & equip myself to be His instrument in this world of woe & sin.

Fifty-two Masses, & counting.

"And now for something completely different."

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Steve Martin & the Toot Uncommons, "King Tut" (live) via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Champions of Breakfast, "Tame the Wolf" from Pleasure Mountain (T.L.A.M.)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Victors

Saturday, 9 November 2013
Nebraska 17-13 Michigan
6-3, Big Ten 2-3

We now have a losing record in the Big Ten, & for the second game in a row had negative rushing yardage, meaning we lost more yards on sacks & tackles behind the line of scrimmage than we gained on successful rushing plays. Yet, despite this obvious offensive futility, Coach Borges (offensive coordinator) persists in the same misbegotten game plan & Coach Hoke (head coach) continues to place his & the valiant Wolverines' fate in Borges's plainly inept hands. Jason Segel put it well in his song "Dracula's Lament," from the motion picture Forgetting Sarah Marshall:
It's getting king of hard to believe things are going to get better,
I've been drowning too long to believe that the tide's going to turn,
And I've been living too hard to believe things are going to get easier,
I'm still trying to shake off the pain from the lesson I've learned…
(The song then goes into a elaborate revenge fantasy about Professor Abraham Van Helsing, which is less pertinent to our discussion of the sorry & worsening state of Michigan football.)

Under Hoke, the valiant Wolverines lost two games in 2011, five games in 2012, & in 2013? The sky's the limit. We have been awful on the road (the demoralizing loss to the unwelcome Cornhuskers was the first home loss of Hoke's tenure), making the visits to Northwestern & Iowa particularly perilous; we have lost two games in a row, we face two consecutive road games against desperate clubs, & then we host the as-yet-undefeated hated Buckeyes in Michigan Stadium. This shouldn't be a murderers' row, but playing as we are it certainly looks like one. I am searching desperately for some sign that this year's valiant Wolverines have not given up, aren't the quitters that their shellshocked play against the dastardly Spartans & the unwelcome Cornhuskers signaled. On the verge of panic, I am looking for some small sign of hope, & the joke "Hoke springs eternal" isn't cutting the mustard anymore.

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Cake, "Comfort Eagle" from Comfort Eagle (T.L.A.M.)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Explorers' Club, № CCCLXVI

Leap years & their customs, & the curious phenomenon of 29 February.

Liberty & Union

More than a year has passed since the great tragedy of President Obama's re-election. The great deception of '08 was understandable, what with eight years of President Bush, fear stalking the land amidst the financial meltdown, & Mr. Obama serving as the national cipher, an empty vessel into which voters poured their own hopes & dreams without any real understanding of who the man was or for what policy prescriptions he stood. But that the wool could be pulled over the eyes of the American electorate a second time, that amidst an economic recovery hardly worth the name & a world descending ever-further into chaos as American leadership & derring-do were conspicuously absent, that the majority of the voting citizens in this country would continue to keep their eyes fixed on the Great & Powerful Oz & spare nary a glance for the man behind the curtain, that was truly disheartening.

Not long after the election, one of my kith, a fellow of left-wing politics & a friendly disposition, insultingly beseeched me not to lose faith in democracy; he insisted that the political pendulum swings to & fro, & would eventually swing back in a direction more to my liking. He meant this kindly, but that he could think so little of me convinced me that we must not be friends after all, that I must be a stranger to him. I have now as much faith in democracy as I have ever had, which is to say as I have now as little faith in democracy as I have ever had. As long as I have been an adult thinker (I refuse to be held accountable for the rashness of thought I possessed a youth, for the very nature of youth is that as not-yet-fully-formed individuals youths cannot be held strictly to account for their rashness), I have been guided by Winston Churchill's famously acerbic appraisals of democracy: "Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time..." & "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." I held to this when then-Governor Bush defeated my preferred candidate, Senator McCain, for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000 & when the Supreme Court stood up for law over politicking in deciding Bush v. Gore later that same year. I held to this when President Bush defeated then-Senator Kerry in '04, a man whom even his supporters (& Bush's harshest detractors) disdained as a "douchebag." I held to this when then-Senator Obama defeated Senator McCain in '08. I have always held democracy in little regard, & yet embraced it as a the only morally defensible form of government. The dichotomy is the result of serious thought & cannot be shaken as the result of an unfavorable electoral result. (My faith in democracy, such as it is, is not built on sand, sir!)

But, yes, the '12 election was discouraging. A quotation from the self-made billionaire Harold Hamm, from a recent profile in the magazine National Review, reflects well my opinion:
He admires Romney and says, "He was a better candidate than we deserved"—"we" meaning the country. "It's a shame he couldn't get there," he continues. "Some things just go against you."
We as a body politic made a dreadful error, an error we continue to pay for in blood, treasure, & honor. Belatedly, thanks to the deceptions at the heart of "Obamacare," the electorate is awakening to its error & the magnitude of injustice it has inflicted on itself. Too late to fix the errors made in the last election cycle, but not too late to apply their lessons to the midterm elections & beyond.
The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
They Might Be Giants, "Thunderbird" from The Spine (T.L.A.M.)


"I know, I know I said that I would quit.
Alright, I promise no more after this.
You don't know how I've tried
To forget what it was like.
I remember now, I remember now
Why they called it Thunderbird,
Why they called it Thunderbird…

"We like fun, me and my girl,
We'll have fun, fun, fun, until
T-bird takes her dad away…"

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Meaghan Smith, "It Snowed" via iTunes, (free) Holiday Sampler (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "It snowed, it snowed, it snowed last night…" Of course, there are still leaves on the ground beneath the light powdering of snow, & new leaves were falling as I left this morning, creating an unholy snow sandwich with leaves for the bread. O, bother!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Armistice Day

If I've not made my position clear by this late date, then I never will. I trust you, gentle reader, will not misunderstand me.

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

Ninety-five years have passed since the guns fell silent at "the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month," the symbolic end of what was up to that point the bloodiest slaughter in the history of Christendom. We forget the events of 1914-1918—nothing less than the attempted suicide of Western civilization—& the years that lead to them, at our gravest peril. The Commonwealth has learnt this lesson better than we, their Remembrance Day combining the spirit of the universal Armistice Day & our Memorial Day in a way that our Veterans' Day does not. My purpose is not to denigrate us, but to point out an example by which we might profit: Remembrance Day. A picture of worth a thousand words: photographs of Remembrance Day.

This blog's annual showcase of the poetry of the Great War began with "In Flanders Fields," & for a time it was thought this would poem would be a annual fixture. Then I decided to branch out into other poets & other poems by the same poet; I cherish that decision, but even so the time has come for the return of "In Flanders Fields." The field of The Secret Base has lain fallow since '08, time enough for McCrae's words to affect as anew.

"In Flanders Fields"
by John McCrae (1872-1918)*

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row by row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still singing bravely, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who died
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

"The Parable of the Old Man and the Young"
by Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)*

So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
As they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
And builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an Angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.
But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

Wayback Machine: Lest We Forget
We here at The Secret Base have not always honored Armistice Day as we should, not always treated it as sacred, but since the very year of this blog's establishment, Anno Domini 2002, not once have we failed to mark the day in some slight manner. Lest we forget.

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

*Neither Lieutenant Colonel McCrae nor 2nd Lieutenant Owen, M.C., survived the final year of the Great War. Doctor McCrae died of the pneumonia; Mister Owen died in combat, one week before the Armistice.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Bad Company, "Bad Company" from Bad Company (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Almost as much fun as "King Apparatus" by King Apparatus from King Apparatus, though lacking the appeal of repeatedly saying or typing the word "apparatus." Apparatus.

What fondness I have for the music of Bad Company springs mostly from its use in the motion picture
Scotland, PA, a picture I recommend highly.

Samstag, 9 November
The University of Michigan Marching Band, "Main Theme (from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves)" from A Saturday Tradition (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The football might be a disaster, but you can always count on the Michigan Marching Band to uphold the honor of the University of Michigan & uplift the spirits of the Maize & Blue faithful. Go Blue!

Freitag, 8 November
They Might Be Giants, "Prevenge" from The Spine (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I spied an advertisement for a prescription drug branded as, I kid you not, "provenge." Provenge? Like, proactive revenge? Another term for preemptive revenge, A.K.A. prevenge?

"Can you tell that I'm planning prevenge?
Read my mind, yes, I'm planning prevenge…"

Thursday, November 7, 2013

I've been experimenting with the Twitter (@Rebel_Black_Dot) & in the timeless words from Ren & Stimpy, "No, sir, I don't like it." A good faith effort requires that I stick with it for at least a fortnight (more likely a month), but in these early days it's a horror show of egotism & disconnection, the very antithesis of communication.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Charlie King, et al., "Abdul Abulbul Amir" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I was singing "Abdul Abulbul Amir" this morning in the shower. Now just try & get that image out of your head. Bwa ha ha ha ha!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

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


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

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

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

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


Cosmo Kramer's phrase, "unbridled enthusiasm," is a constant peril to the bewhiskered gentleman. With the advent of generally cooler weather, & an increasingly dissatisfaction over the summer with the unfortunate aesthetic consequences of excessive trimming, I'd let my beard grow longer than usual. Constant pruning was required to tame rogue hairs & overly long hairs that had managed to hide amidst their shorter brethren, but overall my whiskers grew & grew. My beard was the longest it had been since the untamed growth of the Banzai Beard Bonanza II: Bonsai's Revenge, over three years ago. Prudence prompted a slight trim, especially of the goatee (those whiskers about the chin), which was nearing the cliff over which it would have taken on a wild, unkempt appearance. A snip here of my dedicated hair scissors, a snip there, another snip here to even things out & restore symmetry, & before I knew what had happened I had gone farther than I'd planned, much farther. Enthusiasm, once unbridled, waste no time in making mischief. My whiskers are now shorter than I'd intended, shorter than I'd like, yet not even close to the excessive shortness of the summer's misguided trims. Live & learn. It is imperative for the bewhiskered gentleman to grasp firmly the bridle of his enthusiasm.

The Queue
Speaking of unbridled enthusiasm, I think I should like to have read Billy Mumphrey, " a story about love, deception, greed, lust, &... unbridled enthusiasm!" One jacket blurb read, "You see, Elaine, Billy was a simple country boy, you might say a cockeyed optimist, who got himself mixed up in the high stakes game of world diplomacy & international intrigue."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Hallowe'en Song of the Day
James Darren, "That Old Black Magic" from This One's From the Heart (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Vic Fontaine rides again! Thus ends another musical celebration of Hallowe'en, treasured readers. We'll be back on schedule next year, culminating on Hallowe'en itself, cross my heart & hope to die.(Insert Vincent Price's creepy laughter here.)

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Hallowe'en Song of the Day
Danny Elfman, Ed Ivory, & Ken Page, "Oogie Boogie's Song" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: From the motion picture The Nightmare Before Christmas, released an astonishing twenty years ago.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Explorers' Club, № CCCLXV

The Gregorian calendar, a reform of the ancient Julian calendar, promulgated by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, in the papal bull Inter gravissimas.

He's Dead, Jim | Operation ÖSTERREICH
Last week, Comrade Coquettish posted a video to the FaceSpace, her advertisement for a dance partner to join her for a tango class. (Comrade Coquettish is a lithe & insanely alluring dancer; think Salome & the Dance of the Seven Veils.) I commented, "If life was a dance movie, I would be the raw, untamed talent who only needed formal training to be[come] a legend. Also, I'd be chiseled instead of flabby." (Think Channing Tatum.) In an instant message chat a few days later, she wrote, "You're not chubby, by the way, you are just extra sturdy." I was vaguely shocked, because Comrade Coquettish is a fitness fanatic who practices astonished asceticism & I am slothful glutton whose elephantine bulk can best be described as an elephantine bulk. I know how fat, how morbidly obese I am; it's not news to me. The sad truth is that I choose to look this way, to be this unhealthy. I choose it day by day, every time I have a snack or a dessert or seconds at dinner or choose not to exercise or choose to take the elevator "just this once" instead of the stairs. (Lift really is a better word than elevator.) I remember a brief exchange from a couple years back, in which Vitamin H. lamented her heft & I reassured her that she's not alone, that a great many of us, especially in America, especially in Michigan, especially in Genesee County, are overweight, myself included; she replied, "Yeah, but comfortable with it." She was right. I am quite comfortable being fat. Too comfortable, as it turns out. I should be less comfortable in my own voluminous skin. I should be daily ashamed of my sloth & my gluttony, two of the seven deadly sins. I understand that Comrade Coquettish was trying to be kind, thinking that I was self-hating & trying to disguise it with humor, but her statement was preposterous. "Extra sturdy"? If anything, my tremendous bulk has made me far more fragile than I should be. In this as in a great many things the words of the Bard as an instructive as they are poetic: "…I must be cruel only to be kind" (Hamlet, Act III, Scene IV). I'm not saying that fat persons should be treated as pariahs & driven out of every civilized place by torch & pitchfork, or that insulted already fat kids is a productive way to amend their ways, but I've never been done any favors by those who are kind only to be cruel, explaining that I'm big-boned or extra sturdy or that their is more of me to love. (The Interpreter, my paramour from last year was a chubby chaser, & flat-out told me she wouldn't have been interested if I had a six-pack of abs. So she claimed.) I am far more than flabby, far more than chubby. I am obese & for far too long I have been far too accepting of this sorry state of affairs.
The Rebel Black Dot Hallowe'en Song of the Day
Le Pigbat, "Monsieur Hyde" from The Aquabats! and Horchata Records Present… Rice Capades Music Sampler, Vol. 1 (Captain Thumbs Up!)

Commentary: I have 'til next Hallowe'en (or the parties the preceding weekend) to figure out how to be costumed as Dr. Henry Jekyll early in the evening & as Mr. Edward Hyde later that same evening.

Most of the lyrics of "Monsieur Hyde" are in French (not necessarily correct French), but in English the girls do say over & over again:

"Hello, Doctor Jekyll…"

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Victors

(№ 24) Michigan State 29-6 Michigan (№ 23)
6-2, Big Ten 2-2

With each passing game, the valiant Wolverines under Coach Hoke look more & more like the valiant Wolverines under Coach Rodriguez. Harsh, I know, but not unduly so & no less accurate for being harsh. If today's appalling display of ineptitude & apathy was not the nadir, I shudder at the thought of reaching the nadir. We did not just lose to the dastardly Spartans today, we were dominated in every phase of the game by the dastardly Spartans. Playing the way we did today, we should consider seriously changing our nickname from Wolverines to Helots. (Don't understand the reference? The relationship of Spartans to helots? How very sad for you.) (Sorry, I'm in a mean & nasty humor.)

Next: Nebraska, & here I am finding it difficult to resist the temptation to wallow in doomsaying, so I had best quit while I am ahead. I will never give up on the valiant Wolverines, not ever, but we must not mistake Brady Hoke & his bumbling staff for those valiant Wolverines. Giving up on the man does not mean giving up on Michigan.

Saturday, 26 October 2013
The valiant Wolverines had the second of two bye weeks. In the previous Monday's poll, the victory over the wily Hoosiers, unsatisfactory though it was, was enough to catapult the valiant Wolverines back into the A.P. Top 25, at № 24. The fools!

Saturday, 19 October 2013
Michigan 63-47 Indiana
6-1, Big Ten 2-1

The valiant Wolverines prevailed, but for the third time this season their victory didn't feel like a victory, but like a game they simply managed not to lose. I was reminded of nothing else so much as the feisty Fighting Illini game in the Rich Rod era, when the valiant Wolverines prevailed by a final score of, like, 67-65 (in triple overtime time: Wayback Machine). That 2010 win over Illinois, though a victory, wasn't Michigan football, not the way any man jack of us wants to see it played; this year's sorry display against the wily Hoosiers wasn't Michigan football, not the way any man jack of us wants to see it played. I hate the feeling that sits in the pit of my stomach when I watch this year's squad of valiant Wolverines.

Go Blue!
On Hallowe'en, after the front lights were doused to signal to any remaining trick-or-treaters that we'd closed up shop, I asked my mother & my father if they were interested in watching either of a pair of classic Universal horror pictures I'd recorded via Turner Classic Movies, Bride of Frankenstein & The Mummy, both starring the uncanny Karloff. I thought this was thematically appropriate Hallowe'en fare. My father preferred to watch his usual Thursday night programs, Covert Affairs & Elementary, while my mother preferred her usual Thursday primetime shows, Grey's Anatomy & Scandal. Yep, our house was simply brimming with the Hallowe'en spirit.

I watched The Mummy last night & found it to be disappointing, decidedly inferior to other iconic Universal horror pictures like Frankenstein & Dracula.

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

Commentary: There is something decidedly otherworldly about some of the sounds in the background of "Voodoo."

Freitag, 1 November
John Williams, "Double Trouble" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Double Trouble" is a delightful piece of fluff from one of the Harry Potter films, the one with Gary Oldman, …the Prisoner of Azkaban. That's the third one, I think. I've seen the entire Harry Potter film series, but have not experienced the slightest desire to read the books. The film series is O.K., but nothing spectacular. I fail to understand why the books & films inspire such enthusiasm & devotion, but there's no accounting for taste. "Double Trouble's" lyrics borrow liberally from the Weird Sisters in the Bard's Macbeth.

"Double, double, toil and trouble,
Fire burn and cauldron bubble,
Double, double, toil and trouble,
Something wicked this way comes…"