Friday, March 28, 2003

Prayer of a Soldier in France

My shoulders ache beneath my pack
(Lie easier, Cross, upon His back).
I march with feet that burn and smart
(Tread, Holy Feet, upon my heart).
Men shout at me who may not speak
(They scourged Thy back and smote Thy cheek).
I may not lift a hand to clear
My eyes of salty drops that sear.
(Then shall my fickle soul forget
Thy Agony of Bloody Sweat?)
My rifle hand is stiff and numb
(From Thy pierced palm red rivers come).
Lord, Thou didst suffer more for me
Than all the hosts of land and sea.
So let me render back again
This millionth of Thy gift. Amen.

- Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

"The links they are a-changin'..."

Well, one of them, anyway.

Over there on the right, where I keep a short list of links, a tip of the Black Hat goes to the return of TCR News. The renewed site, known as Today's Catholic Reflections and Reports, will be updated every Friday, with news from a Catholic perspective. Congratulations are in order to Editor Stephen Hand, who brings the site back to life, after a period of hibernation and consultation (not necessarily in that order).
"Blessed are the peacemakers...

...for thou givest them their reality check in due season."

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

The self-righteous shall inherit the Oscars!

Rachel Lucas goes on a rant about Michael Moore's latest contribution to the "vast wasteland" of network television. This is provided through the courtesy of that reluctant observer of the Hollywood scene, Karen Hall of Disordered Affections.

"Rachel is a 30-year-old gun-totin' capitalist oppressor college student with two jobs, two dogs, and no kids. If you take offense to that, kiss my ass. Don't mess with Texas, because that's where Rachel lives with John, where they like to make fun of liberals and play with guns. Ne messez pas avec le Texas."

I think I'm in love. Who the hell is John?
Angelus ad Virginem... a popular Medieval carol that is still popular today. It appears in the Dublin Troper (ca. 1360) and Chaucer mentions it in his Miller's tale of The Canterbury Tales. Today all of Christendom celebrates the Feast of the Annunciation. It is on this day that the angel Gabriel appeared to a young girl in Galilee, in a little town called Nazareth, and promised her a Son, conceived by the Holy Spirit, who would be the salvation of the world.

Angelus ad Virginem subintrans in conclave
Virginis formidinem demulcens inquit: "Ave!
Ave, Regina virginum, caeli terraeque Dominum
concipies et paries intacta salutem hominum,
tu porta caeli facta medela criminum."

When the angel came secretly to the Virgin in her room,
soothing the maiden's fear, he said: "Hail!
Hail, Queen of virgins. While yet untouched by man
you shall conceive and bear the Lord of heaven and earth, salvation for mankind.
You have become the gate of heaven, a remedy for sins."

"Quomodo conciperem quae virum non cognovi?
Qualiter infringerem quod firma mente vovi?"
"Spiritus Sancti gratia perficiet haec omnia;
ne timeas, sed gaudeas, secura quod castimonia
manebit in te pura Dei potentia."

"How can I conceive, since I have not known a man?
How can I break the vow I made with firm intent?"
"The grace of the Holy Spirit shall bring all this to pass.
Fear not, but rejoice, secure in the knowledge that pure chastity
shall remain yours through God's mighty power."

Ad haec virgo nobilis respondens inquit ei:
"Ancilla sum humilis omnipotentis Dei.
Tibi caelesti nuntio, tanti secreti conscio
consentiens et cupiens videre factum quod audio;
parata sum parere Dei consilio."

To this the noble Virgin replied, saying:
"I am the lowly handmaiden of Almighty God.
I bend my will to you, O celestial messenger,
who share so great a mystery, and I long to see performed what I now hear.
I am ready to yield myself to God's design."

Eia Mater Domini, quae pacem reddidisti
Angelis et homini, cum Christum genuisti:
tuum exora Filium ut se nobis propitium
exhibeat et deleat peccata: praestans auxilium
vita frui beata post hoc exsilium.

Ah, mother of the Lord, who gave back peace
to angels and mankind when you bore Christ,
pray your son to be gracious to us,
and wipe away our sins, granting us aid
to enjoy a blessed life after this exile.

Today is also the birthday of the "hillbilly Thomist," Flannery O'Connor (1925-1968).

And, courtesy of Mark Shea, it gets better.
To welcome in the spring...

The forecast calls for rain tonight and tomorrow. But for the last several days, spring has been heralded into our lives, with virtually cloudless skies, and temperatures that make you want to loosen your tie and open your jacket. Young women in summer dresses sit in the grass eating their lunches. Near the Tidal Basin, the cherry blossoms are beginning to bloom, under the watchful eye of the large bronze figure of Thomas Jefferson, a renaissance man who longed to retreat to his beloved Monticello and tend his garden.

I had a dream last night. I was riding my bike at a shopping center in Maryland. I came across a dozen or so of my dancing friends. One who was once a close friend of mine stayed on the opposite side, as if to hide, while the others awkwardly exchanged pleasantries. After a brief time, they looked ahead, and realized their dinner reservation was due. They excused themselves and hurried away.

Then I woke up.

People attach different meanings to dreams. Some attach no meaning at all. Others see the unconscious mind at work, revealing its true self to the surface. Still others see them as premonitions of things to come. My own view is somewhere in the middle of all that.

The work continues. I wish I could be in Toronto in April, but it may not be practical this year. Come this weekend, a group of zydeco fans will hurry down to Fort Lauderdale FL for a weekend music and dance festival. I won't be among them, not yet. I thought I might save most of those sojourns for when my son is out of high school.

"But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep."

Friday, March 21, 2003

The Palestrina Choir...

...will present a concert on Sunday, March 23, at 3:00 p.m., at St Patrick's Catholic Church. The 17-voice a cappella choir, under the direction of Michael Harrison will perform a program entitled "Psalmi Ponitentiales." The program includes pieces by Renaissance composers Orland de Lassus, Alexander Utendal, and Jacobus Vaet. There is no admission charge; a donation is requested.

Recitation of the seven penitential psalms (6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129, and 142) has been a part of Lenten worship since the time of Pope Innocent III (1198-1216). Polyphonic settings of these lengthy texts became popular in the latter part of the Renaissance, particularly among Netherlandish and German composers.

The Palestrina Choir was formed in 1986 to present rarely heard masterpieces of 16th-century liturgical music, with an emphasis on the works of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. In recent years the choir has also begun to give occasional presentations of music from later eras. The Palestrina Choir has been featured on WETA-FM's Music from Washington and NPR's Performance Today. The Washington Post has called the Palestrina Choir "one of the finest and most specialized choruses in the choral wonderland of metropolitan Washington."

St Patrick Church
10th and G Streets, NW
Benjamin Smedberg, Director of Music & Organist
Mass in Time of War

...from the Classical ("Tridentine") Roman Missal, courtesy of Dale Price.

Thursday, March 20, 2003


At about eight o'clock tonight, the Sun will cross the celestial equator from south to north, and winter will turn to spring in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the day of the "equal night" -- in Latin, the words from which the term equinox is derived.

The significance of this day in the cosmos was always felt here on Earth below. The Stonehenge monument in Britain is aligned so that the Sun will cast its light at a precise point on this day. In an area northeast of where I grew up, the Hopewell Nation created a ceremonial meeting place about two thousand years ago. There also, an earthen mound was created to align with the path of the Sun on the first days of winter and summer.

From these reference points, and the original traditions themselves, the early Church determined the time for celebrating new life of the Risen Savior. The darkness of sin and penance gave way to the light of Christ. It still does today, as all our technology, and the sum total of human knowledge, is overwhelmed by the voices of our past, reminding us of where we have been, and who we are.

It is a rainy day in the Nation's capital. The military conflict proceeds elsewhere, the protesters blocking Pennsylvania Avenue have gone away, and things have quieted down. My biggest decision is whether to go to a dance in Philadelphia on Friday night, or just catch a movie here at home. One look at the place in which I live, tells me there is much to be done. After all, spring is a time for cleaning the nest.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003


Today, on the Roman Calendar, western Christendom observes the Feast of Saint Joseph, husband of Mary and foster-father of Jesus. What little we know of him is in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, where he is referred to as "a just man." Various apochryphal gospel accounts list him as an old man at the time he married Mary, even that he was a widower, with four children from a previous marriage, including "James the brother of Jesus." The Church generally considers James to be a cousin, the original languages often using the same word for both.

There are also many stories of his intercession. A famine in Sicily was said to have ended following a fervent use of a Novena in his name. Thus he is revered throughout Italy, where they parade his statue through the village, atop "Saint Joseph altars," which are laden with bread and other foods. Perhaps this explains why Angelo Roncalli had a special devotion to him as well, and as Pope John XXIII, added his name to the "Roman Canon," the traditional Eucharistic Prayer of the Roman Mass. There is also in the USA, the story of the mysterious traveling carpenter who voluntarily built a spiral staircase in a convent chapel in New Mexico. The structure was completed without nails, and its design defies engineering convention. It has never needed repair.

As a carpenter, Joseph is also revered as the patron of the workingman, and of real estate agents. Catholics of all level of devotion still bury a statue of Joseph upside down near their house to pray for a timely selling. Sadly, this practice tends to border on superstition, but it is typical of the "folk religion" that pervades many cultures.

As the "strong and silent type," Joseph is also remembered as the patron of fathers, and of a happy death. Conventional wisdom holds that he died while Jesus was a youth, and left his carpentry business to him. Thus Jesus is also remembered as "the carpenter from Nazereth," as was His foster-father.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

"From the officer entrusted with our nation's nuclear codes...

...proof that Bill Clinton cared little for national security and put every American in mortal danger."
The Clock Has Started

Saddam Hussein has 48 hours to get himself and his boys out of Dodge City (aka Baghdad). There's a guy in a tractor sitting in a pond by Constitution Avenue. The police could just take the guy out with a dart, but then they wouldn't have any excuse for more roadblocks. My son's mother called just before I left, ragging on about how our son can't go to school because he has migraines because he forgot to take his meds the night before. I'm starting to read up on survival manuals, and am considering re-enlisting in the Boy Scouts if we should ever go to "Code Red."

God, do I need a break or what???

And the LORD sayeth unto me: "Here, my son. Take your pick..."

The Interview With God

Pathways to Peace

Tomorrow is the feast of Saint Joseph, and I'm gonna celebrate the feast as I usually do -- by going out and doin' that... well, you know.

Monday, March 17, 2003

My Celtic Moment

(stay tuned...)
Dateline Lynchburg: Baptists Discover Ritualism

Terry Mattingly writes: "[W]orshippers at Rivermont Avenue Baptist Church will sing the great prayer of Ireland's missionary bishop: 'Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me... I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity...'"

(This I gotta see. ROAD TRIP!!!)
From our bulging "Doofus" files...

From the pages of the Irish Catholic, the leading Catholic newspaper of Ireland: "The chief executive of the St Patrick's Festival has said that the St Patrick's Day Parade is not about St Patrick..."

Read it again. Someone really said that. A response to such a dumb-ass statement will be posted later today. Stay tuned...

"For the Great Gaels of Ireland
Are the men that God made mad,
For all their wars are merry
And all their songs are sad."

--from his poem The Ballad of the White Horse
Film Captures Troubled Irish Troubadour

"MacGowan's band, the Pogues, combined punk energy and traditional Irish instrumentation and were a brief sensation in the 1980s, particularly in their home base of London. He was - and is - a drunken shambles that could startle you with lyrics of poetic beauty..."
Saint Patrick's Breastplate

+ + +

Gleasim me fein inniu
i neart De do mo luamhaireacht;
i gcumhact De do mo choinneail;
i gciall De do m'iomthus;
i rosc De do mo reamhfheiceail;
i gcluas De do m'eisteacht;
i mbriathar De do m'urlabhairt;
i laimh De do m'imdheaghail;
in inteaach De do mo reamhtheacht;
i sciath De do m'imdhidean;
i sochraidi De do m'anacal.

I bind unto myself today
the power of God to hold and lead,
his eye to watch, his might to stay,
his ear to harken to my need:
the wisdom of my God to teach,
his hand to guide, his shield to ward;
the word of God to give me speech,
his heavenly host to be my guard.

Criost liom, Criost romham,
Criost i mo dhiaidh, Criost istigh ionam,
Criost fum, Criost os mo chionn,
Criost ar mo laimh dheas, Criost ar mo laimh chle,
Criost i mo lui dhom, Criost i mo shui dhom,
Criost i mo sheasamh dhom,
Criost i gcroi gach duine ata ag cuimhneamh orm,
Criost i mbeal gach duine a labhraionn liom,
Criost i ngach suil a fheachann orm,
Criost i ngach cluais a eisteann liom.

Christ be with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ deep withim me,
Christ below me, Christ above me,
Christ as I lie down, Christ as I arise,
Christ as I stand,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

+ + +

Friday, March 14, 2003

"Beware the Ides of March!"

-- the Soothsayer, from Act 1, Scene 2, of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar

"Spring is here. Why doesn't my heart go dancing?"

-- Lorenz Hart, American songwriter (1895-1943)

"Surely spring will allow
a girl without a stitch on
to turn softly in her sunlight
and not be afraid of her bed."

-- Anne Sexton, American poet (1928-74)

I was on the phone the other day with one of the sisters of the Anglican abbey near Baltimore where I have been known to make pilgrimage. While thankful for the four seasons, and sure of God's purpose in providing them, she nonetheless confessed that spring always made her feel depressed. I had to admit to a similar condition when I was in college. There I was, hard at work on my studio projects, while others were out throwing frisbees and basking in the sun, or in a new-found love.

Spring is a sign of hope for us. The earth rises from darkness, brown turns to green, as prelude to the rising from the dead of the Son of its Creator. We know from the leaves that fell not six months before, that things must die so they may live again.

For me, it seems the Ashes of Wednesday did not dampen my activity, as I am busier than ever. I've spent the week lining up opportunities to sit in with the zydeco bands that are touring the area from down Louisiana way -- not only for me, but for my son Paul, who is coming along as a fine blues harp player in his own right. Meanwhile, there is a transition in my social arena. I've found myself out-growing some of the "high school" shenanigans of some people I meet on the dance floor. So, that settled it for me. I'm giving up "high school" for Lent. It hasn't been easy though. When you're around this nonsense long enough, it rubs off on you.

About once a month, I go up to Philadelphia, so I can be around grown-ups for a change. That's where we'll be tonight, me and the boy. He's taking his act on the road, with Roy Carrier, the same band he was with on the 1st of this month. Grandma said to take my camera.

Saturday night I give a dance demonstration in Leesburg. Stay tuned...

"He is a dreamer. Let us leave him. Pass."

-- Julius Caesar, responding to the aforementioned prophecy

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Tribute to Saint Gregory: Part Two

Last night I was visiting my library (when I wasn't dancing to the zydeco sounds of C J Chenier at Wolf Trap). I came across three recommendations for teaching oneself or others to sing plainchant.

The first is an audio cassette with songsheet produced by Fr Joseph Fessio, entitled How Catholics Can Sing. Fessio gives the listener an historical overview of liturgical music and church documentation, and a brief singing lesson from the Ordinary of the Mass. It is available for $5.95 from Our Father's House in Seattle (phone 206.725.0461).

The second is a book and audio cassette entitled Minimum Repetroire of Plain Chant, also available for $12.00 from Our Father's House. It contains the contents of a musical collection officially known as Jubilate Deo, which was originally disseminated by Pope Paul VI in 1974 to all the Catholic bishops of the world, and contains what His Holiness determined to be, as the title suggests, the minimum repetroire of sacred chant that all Catholics should know. The book is quite a bargain, with modern musical notation, English translations, and historical backgrounds of such hymns and chants as Te Deum, Veni Creator, Ubi Caritas, Regina Caeli, Adoro Te Devote, Tantum Ergo, and the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin. The forty-minute tape is of an unaccompanied female voice -- and a lovely one at that.

The third recommendation is a three-cassette series entitled Singing the Psalms: How to Chant in the Christian Contemplative Tradition. Episcopal priestess Rev Cynthia Bourgeault gives an excellent demonstration of vernacular plainchant, showing how the psalms can be sung in either simple or solemn tones. The tape collection includes a 27-page "mini-psalter" to accompany the audio lessons. I am currently going through this series, and find it quite illuminating. It is available for $24.95 from its producer, Sounds True of Boulder CO. It is also available here in DC at the bookstore of the Washington National Cathedral.

(Note Bene: At this writing, the website for Our Father's House is not fully interactive, while it is under reconstruction. A phone call or mail order is recommended, along with requesting a catalog. The author of MWBH is not compensated in any way for the endorsement of the aforementioned products, and makes them known as a service to the reader, for educational and religious purposes only.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Tribute to Saint Gregory: Part One

Today is the feast of Pope Saint Gregory the Great on both the Anglican and the Classical Roman Calendar. He is also honored in the Orthodox Church as "Gregory the Theologian" or "Gregory the Dialogist." Most important of all, it is Gregory who reformed the Old Roman Chant, thus it became the official form of singing of the Church that bears his name. There are a number of helpful links for discovering and/or learning Gregorian Chant -- among them Gregoriaans from Belgium (or is it the Netherlands?), which includes this listing entitled Gregorian Chant on the Net.

Tomorrow we will continue this favorite topic of MWBH, with more recommended sources for learning plainchant, after I spend some time rummaging through my vast library this evening. Until then...
Dateline Cincinnati: Jesuits Assume Catholic Identity!!!

"Because of concerns over content and language, Xavier University announced Tuesday that three productions of the Vagina Monologues, scheduled for this weekend in the theater at the Gallagher Student Center, have been canceled... Xavier's president, the Rev Father Michael J Graham, SJ, said... 'I, as the leader of this university, in consultation with my executive team and others, have decided that the presentation of the Vagina Monologues is not the appropriate vehicle for Xavier University to raise awareness about violence against women...'"
Of Dixie Cups and Dancing To Heaven

I got this letter from "Jay" out west:

"Out here in Southern California, friendships tend to be pretty ephemeral affairs; people act friendly right away, but as soon as you or they move on to a different job or a different school, one is likely never to hear from them again. I work at a university, and have gotten to know many students rather well in years past and I felt that we had a real friendship only to never hear from them again after graduation. We live in a real Dixie cup culture where people and things are often seen as disposable. We move from place to place and job to job, from one anonymous suburb or apartment block to another, many of us filling our spare time with TV shows and the mindless bustle of the consumer lifestyle and never really putting down any sort of roots or real commitments with our neighbors. In this respect, your dancing is a really wonderful thing - to be with others who love what you love in joy and music and perspiration! I hope and pray that you keep it up so that you and your [friends] can [dance] your way to heaven in good and faithful company."

We can only hope.
This is what happens...

...when you have too much time (and technology) on your hands.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

"Blessed are the peacemakers..."

I can tell you this much, boys and girls. After what I saw here in Washington on the 11th of September, 2001, anybody who came on my property to exercise "freedom of speech" in the manner so described, they would not go unchallenged.

I lost a friend today. Some things were said in a phone conversation that were completely misinterpreted. They have refused to discuss it with me, and have asked me not to contact them. As they ran off the list of attributes they wished to avoid in their friendships, I realized they were being assigned to me. If I am to be judged so harsely on the basis of one incident, then I never had a friend to begin with. Fortunately, I don't run into them that much anyway. This person claims to be a devout Christian, and wishes "His peace" for me. Am I to find that peace reflected in others, or is that just some pious platitude employed to justify oneself?

For a few hours, it takes the wind out of me. I have had a similar incident not long ago. There is a part of me that wants to crawl into a hole and never come out. When I remember how Christ lost so many of His friends, I realize I must join my sorrow with Him on the cross. There is nowhere else to take it. I have plenty of work to do today. But it is a sad day for me.

There is a light dusting of snow falling on the ground in the Nation's capital. I want to run away. Instead I will turn to the routine of everyday life, and wait for spring, and the prospect of new life.

Monday, March 10, 2003


It seems that the dancing didn't stop with the end of Mardi Gras. One night at Taliano's, I got to speak one-on-one with zydeco musician Roy Carrier about the prospects of being an occasional sideman. Seems he remembered well the job I did when I sat in with him and his son, Troy "Dikki Du" Carrier, last fall. I notice that most of the good guitarists with these bands don't just do straight barre chord rythym, but branch off into different chord progressions in position, as well as occasional lead pattern breaks, just to add a little light and shade to their end of the spectrum. It's a skill well worth learning, and I pick up a few things just watching these guys.

Last Saturday night, a woman told me of a silent auction at her church, where one of the prizes was a private zydeco dance lesson. Well, one couple won the prize, and then her male partner backed out. My response? "Well, I can see your problem here. You didn't ask ME!" We exchanged information. It's just this one time, but I sure do miss teaching, especially since my former partner, especially with the lovely and talented Bonita.

While this post is being written, and random thoughts spew forth, I have two or three essays in the works, which I hope will see the light of the internet some time soon. Meanwhile, I'm helping my son with his Algebra tutoring, using the ultimate in visual aids. With any luck, we can prepare for his SAT tests in the same way.

I'm back in the office tomorrow, hopefully with more previously unpublished thoughts. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

"Gee, Dad, this Saddam guy speaks English real good."

From the wires of the Associated Press: "A man employed by CBS News to speak the words of Saddam Hussein during his interview with Dan Rather last week reportedly adopted a fake Arabic accent.... Steve Winfield is... a specialist in foreign accents, the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday."
"Now is the acceptable time..."

Throughout Western Christendom, the Great Fast is upon us as of today. Don Jim gives an account of how the custom of ashes appears in Europe. He maintains that the sprinkling of ashes over the assembly, rather than crossing the forehead, was normative in the Classical Roman ritual (or the "Old Rite," if you will). A telephone call to my parents in Ohio today would suggest otherwise. Perhaps this was simply a regional variation, rather than common to the ancient usage.

The night before, I engaged in one last night of pre-Lenten revelry. I'm hoping to make it to church today, even though (contrary to popular opinion) Ash Wednesday is not a holyday of obligation. If all else fails, I'll use a piece of charcoal at home tonight, to give my own forehead a good dusting. (Shhhh...)

Meanwhile, I am definitely fasting today as the Church requires. But I've only been eating one full meal a day for most days in the last few months as part of an aggressive weight loss plan. (From the first of September to the present, I'm down from 210 to 180. Not too shabby.) So, with that in mind, here is what I've decided to give up for Lent. (Thanks, Mark.)

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

The Road to Mardi Gras... Stops Here!!!

Okay, boys and girls, the big day is here. Time to get our notepads out, and click on these fascinating pages about this very Catholic holiday:

History of Mardi Gras

Top Ten Questions about Mardi Gras

Other FAQ

And last, but not least...

Who picked those colors?

Today I came to work as I normally do. Geez! You'd think these people had never seen lighted Mardi Gras beads before!!

Meanwhile, I'm gonna be at The Barking Dog in Bethesda tonight. If you're in the neighborhood, y'all drop on in, ya hear?

Monday, March 03, 2003

The Road to Mardi Gras

Last Saturday night, Roy Carrier and the Night Rockers held court for our Bon Temps Relay Mardi Gras celebration. Among the highlights was the introduction into the zydeco universe of one up-and-coming blues harp phenomenon, Paul David "Podunk" Alexander. This young prodigy has also been overheard to say: "Women love my fancy footwork." Apparently.

Meanwhile, the day known as "Lundi Gras," or Fat Monday, once a rest stop from the Weekend Before to the Big Day Itself, has become an occasion to party in its own right. We'll be gathering evidence to support this trend tonight. Stay tuned...
Blog Watch: Will the HMS Popcak spring a leak?

Victor Lams of et cetera comments on how HMS Blog now has a dozen contributors, and essentially suggests that the Skipper reduce the excess baggage in the cargo hold. Maybe that's the reason that site takes so damn long to load. After all, I'm sitting here with a Mac G4 running at a kick-ass 500 mHz, and I have to wait forever for some of Steubenville's Finest to dispense their wisdom -- on such things as Mark Shea's trip to the Dark Side, and Emily Stimpson's love life. Good thing it's worth the wait, huh, guys?