Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Today finds ol’ Robbo playing the Great Bedroom Switcheroo game at Port Swiller Manor.  It is uncommonly like Moving Day, something I have always heartily despised.

Briefly, what is now the basement study is being converted to Eldest Gel’s bedroom (because teenager).  Meanwhile, Youngest Gel takes over Eldest Gel’s former room.  And after expending my entire politickal capital in lobbying, bribes, threats and other tactics, I have managed to secure the Youngest Gel’s room for my new Man Cave, in which I will have my desk, a small sofa, a couple bookcases and my stereo.

Of course, since it’s upstairs I can hardly call it a “cave”.  I’m thinking “Eagle’s Nest” might be a better name.

I’m just waiting around now for a couple fellahs we hired to help move the bulkier objects up and down the stairs.  Hopefully by this evening, enough of the dust will have settled that I can toast my new digs in the bottle of Laphroaig 10 y.o. that Mrs. R brought home as a Christmas present yesterday.  (Ol’ Robbo does like teh peat!)

(Oh, and we’ll need to have Verizon run a new line up there for teh innerwebs, so I may be off the air here for a couple days.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Last evening the boys and girls down the Cathedral put on their annual Lessons and Carols Festivus and this year the thing was live streamed and YooToobed.  Teh Middle Gel and her crew do their stuff starting at about 51:30.  She is in the second row, third from the right.  (Co-incidentally, the soloist was a classmate of teh Eldest Gel in middle school at Robbo’s parish.)

I put this up here mainly for the benefit of the Mothe, who lives too far away to see teh Gel in action in person, but I have to confess that I also am motivated by my immense pride in what she is doing.  I can only ask your indulgence and hope that, at least amongst the longer-standing friends of the decanter, you understand the combination of my intense love of musick and my sincere delight in my offsprings’ achievements that compels me, and do not come away with the impression that ol’ Robbo is simply sticking on side.

(For what it’s worth, BTW, I’m told that none of the choir particularly liked the piece they sang.  But that’s showbiz.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Whelp,  tomorrow is the annual “holiday” party down the office and ol’ Robbo is dreading it.

Real Life Robbo dislikes parties in general, in part because I’m a quiet, keep to myself kind of fellah, and also in part because I have that hearing condition that makes it very hard for me to pick out what is being said by whomever I’m speaking with amid the general din of merry-making.

I dislike these parties in particular because most of my colleagues have, shall we say, somewhat wildly different outlooks on the world than your humble host, and are furthermore equipped with extremely sensitive outrage tripwires.  This means that, unless I want to get myself in serious trouble through some casual non-PC remark, I’m reduced to the most banal of small-talk, something which bores me to tears.

Thus, when I can’t find an excuse for being out of the office altogether on the day of the party, I almost always confine myself to a quick ten minutes at it, making sure that the Important People see me.  Then I slink back to my room, shut the door and try to stay as quiet as possible.  If somebody discovers me skulking, I usually say that I’m waiting for a very important phone call and that I’ll try to come join them later.

Wish me luck, my friends.

UPDATE:  Bueller?……Bueller?…….

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was flipping idly through the assortment of “holiday” cards that have piled up on the side table by the front door of Port Swiller Manor this evening when he realized that, out of about thirty or so such cards we’ve received so far, only one of them took as its theme the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Most of the rest feature montages of family photos.  My favorite is one that came in the shape of a Christmas tree ornament, complete with ribbon for hanging on a convenient branch  – to honor, I suppose – our closeness.*   Its computer-generated mailing label spelled the Robbo family name wrong.

I throw this out as observation, not condemnation.  Truth of the matter is that, as Port Swiller Communications Director, Mrs. Robbo took the same route with our own cards (although she prided herself on actually hand-addressing the envelopes).   When I raised some mild concern, she replied that I was perfectly at liberty to send “real” Christmas cards to anybody I like, including my imaginary internet friends, and good luck.  Until I stepped up and started writing, however, I could stuff it.

Yes, Dear.

To give you an idea of my “stepping up” is such matters, I’ve still barely made a dent in the set of Madonna and Child cards I bought a couple years ago.

Yes, I denounce myself.

* True story:  The female of this couple was a classmate of Mrs. R in college and she and I went out on a blind date literally the evening before I met Mrs. R.  Said date was a first-class disaster and I believe said classmate actually doesn’t even remember it.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo may have mentioned here that the Youngest Gel started middle school this fall?  If I did, I probably also noted that she had tested into the G/T (or as they now call it, the AAP) program in the local public system.

big-broAnyhoo, recently her English class was assigned Orwell’s 1984, and, quite frankly, she’s been floundering a bit with it.

Now,  Robbo certainly has spilled a great many pixels over the years lamenting the sorry state of our so-called public education system and its low, snow-ball standards of indoctrination education.   But even to me it seems that this particular novel probably is not appropriate material for a bunch of 7th graders, however gifted n’ talented they might be.   (Indeed, I don’t recall reading the novel myself until my brief flirtation with libertarianism my senior year of high school.)

Aside from the difficulty of wrapping their tender brains around the prose and the dystopian gub’mint concepts which it seeks to describe, other wags already have pointed out that there are certain, em, “benefits” of the Brave New World decreed by Big Brother therein which would have any modern adolescent boy asking, “Where do I sign up?”  IF you know what I mean and I think you do.

At any rate, the whole biznay just doesn’t sit well with me.

OTOH, I spent a very pleasant time this evening going over the gel’s history homework about the Progressive Movement in the 19th and early 20th Centuries, craftily inserting poison pills into the Accepted Narrative.  Give me another week or two and I hope to have her convinced that Woodrow Wilson was a first class bastard (which he was).  And God help her teacher if the name Margaret Sanger comes up…..

Speaking of such things, what say friends of the decanter to Saira Blair, the 18 y.o. who recently won a seat in the West Virginia legislature on a platform of Pro-Life, Pro-2nd Amendment and Pro-Constitution?  The elder two gels are definitely, nay emphatically, right there with her, and, while they are still badly outnumbered amongst their peers,  I still think this may be the Next Big Wave.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

♦  Well, ol’ Robbo was finally forced to break down and go get the Tree yesterday afternoon, checkmated by the Port Swiller Family schedule for the next two weeks which precludes decorating the thing any other time than this afternoon.  UPDATE: Done and done.  As per usual, Ol’ Robbo strung the lights and the gels put up all the gewgaws.    Made a good job of it, too.

♦   One of my many casual neuroses is a fear that the tree is going to slide off the roof of the ol’ Jeep as I bring it home.  Every year I look dubiously at the thin strands of twine being strung across the thing higgldy-piggldy by mere kids and wish I’d brought along a set of bungee cords.  Every year I creep along the five or six miles from my church to Port Swiller Manor at the pace of a Florida retiree in a Cadillac on I-95.  And every year my fear is proved misplaced except the one year when I forgot and did my usual bootlegger turn into the driveway.  Dang tree practically took off, sliding down the windshield right in front of me and trying to roll overboard.

UPDATE:  Forgot to mention that when the kid was loading the tree on top of La Wrangler, he asked me how I liked driving her.  I replied enthusiastically, after which he said, “I dunno, it just looks so bad-ass.”

Get that?  What have I been saying all this time?  Robbo is a Bad Boy!

 

♦  Speaking of driving at this time of year, when ol’ Robbo is installed as Emperor, putting a wreath on the grill of your car is gonna cost you a hefty fine.  Putting antlers and a red nose on it is going to constitute a flogging offense.  Just so you know.

♦  I have to admit that this made me violate the No Hot Beverages rule, to my loss.  You’ve been warned.

♦   On a more serious note, here it is Gaudete Sunday already and I don’t feel the slightest bit prepared.   I’d had big plans for this Advent in terms of readings and meditations, but work busyness and a series of domestic fires to put out totally threw them out.  Oh, well.  I’d better get going.

 

cathedral choirGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

As I mentioned in one of the posts below, this past weekend Mrs. R and I went down the Washington National Cathedral to hear its combined choirs (including the Middle Gel, in her first year as a senior chorister) and orchestra serve up Handel’s Messiah.  Oddly enough, although I have heard the piece many, many times in various recordings and have seen live performances of parts of it, this was the first time I’d seen it live all the way through.

Well, it was glorious.  No other word.  Canon Michael McCarthy, who helmed the thing, is a veteran of John Eliot Gardiner’s Monteverdi Choir and of The Sixteen and knows his period performance stuff from soup to nuts, and it definitely showed in the snappy tempi, the crisp sound and the subtlety and intimacy that can be found even in such a big piece.  (My introduction to Messiah was an old record of a performance from some time in the early 60’s by some big Irish orchestra and choir that the Old Gentleman would play for us every Christmas season.  It was a super-sized dirge compared to this and other more recent historically-informed recordings and performances.)  Of the professional soloists, I didn’t care all that much for the soprano but the other three were quite solid.  And the professional men – who take the counter-tenor, tenor and bass parts of the choruses – were as reliable as they always are.  (They regularly sing with the girls for Sunday services and weekday Evensong.)

But the focus for me, of course, was on the boys and girls who handled the soprano part of the choruses and on the Middle Gel in particular.

We sat four rows back from the stage and on the Gel’s side, so I could see her quite clearly behind the bassist.  And I was enchanted.

I had already noticed this fall that, after a couple years’ experience at the Cathedral, the Gel was really beginning to step up, to transition from just getting through without audibly screwing up to really beginning to make her presence felt.  Her performance here did nothing but confirm this impression to me.  She positively radiated confidence and engagement, and I could distinctly pick out her voice more than once.  And on top of all that, she was obviously enjoying herself.  Indeed, at the end of many of the choruses, our eyes would lock, I would nod and she would grin.

All in all, a wonderful thing.

On a somewhat unexpectedly bittersweet note, from time to time during the performance I found myself regretting that the Old Gentleman didn’t live long enough to see his grand-daughter blossoming in this way.  (Friends from the old Llama days** may recall that he commented there under the tag “O.F.” and that he had much to say on musickal topics.)  I get most of my own musickal talent from him and I’m sure that a substantial part of that flowed down to the Gel.  I’m sure he would have been beside himself with pride in her, as was I.

Oh, and to give you an idea of how much I enjoyed it?  The performance ran about three hours altogether.  To me, it felt more like around twenty minutes.  That’s how much.

 

*  I hope that friends of the decanter know ol’ Robbo well enough to understand that this post has nothing to do with pretentious, inside-the-Imperial-Beltway-Bubble sticking on side, but is solely concerned with musick in general and teh Gel’s achievements therein in particular.   Pretentious? Moi?

**  I see that Pixy has returned the old Llama Butchers Moo Knew site to the primordial ooze and therefore that all that was written there is gone.  Same deal with the earlier Blogsplat version.  Pity.  I had often thought of printing out each entry and all its attached comments for the sake of posterity.

 

Teh Drudge this evening is blaring a headline about Obama complaining of acid reflux:

(Reuters) – President Barack Obama, who had medical tests on Saturday after complaining of a sore throat, is suffering from acid reflux, the president’s physician said.

“The president’s symptoms are consistent with soft tissue inflammation related to acid reflux and will be treated accordingly,” Obama’s doctor, Captain Ronny Jackson, said in a statement.

Acid reflux is a condition in which the stomach contents flow back up from the stomach into the esophagus, causing such symptoms as heartburn and sore throat.

Obama, 53, went to Walter Reed military hospital for a fiber optic exam of his throat and since swelling was detected, doctors decided to perform a CT scan as well, Jackson said.

“The CT scan was conducted this afternoon purely as a matter of convenience for the President’s schedule. The CT scan was normal,” Jackson added.

Jackson said he recommended Obama go to Walter Reed for the tests after the president complained of suffering from a sore throat over the past couple of weeks.

Jackson did not give any cause for Obama’s case of the illness. There are many risk factors for acid reflux, including smoking, use of alcohol and hiatal hernia, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Most people respond to lifestyle changes and medicines, although many patients need to continue on medication to control their symptoms.

Ol’ Robbo has his very own hiatal hernia and, for the last few years and (presumably) going forward until he croaks, has had to deal with said reflux himself.  My advice? Stick to the Prilosec and otherwise suck it up, because it ain’t going away.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I think I might have seen this one before, but it still makes me laugh:

st nick

I love these memes.  Why not use the tools available to wrestle back images co-opted by the popular culture?

And speaking of the holidays, Mrs. Robbo and I are off later today to the Cathedral to hear the Middle Gel and her mates sing Handel’s Messiah.  Watch this space for my review.

UPDATE:  Sigh…..Have I mentioned lately what it is like to live in a house with three teenaged daughters, especially for someone like ol’ Robbo who values peace, calm and order very highly?

Yes, it’s an open question whether my liver is going to last until we can get them all packed off to college.  And after breaking up an apocalyptic cat-fight over a pair of shoes a while ago (shoes, for all love!), my thought on this Feast of St. Nicholas was RELEASE THE KRAMPUS!

krampus and NicholasWho?

In Germanic countries, St. Nicholas is accompanied by Krampus, an evil spirit or little devil, usually dressed in fur or black with a long tail, and carries a rattling chain, birch branches and a big black bag. In Holland Sinterklass or Sinterklaus leaves from Spain on a boat, accompanied by Black Peter (Piet), his Moor servant. Peter wears animal skins or the traditional medieval Moorish colorful clothing. M December 5, St. Nicholas Eve, is known in some rural areas of Austria as “Krampus Day.” Children and adults go to the village square to throw snowballs and try to chase off Krampus. Other Krampuses lie in wait, rattling their chains and threatening to carry off naughty children in their black bags, or to punish them with their birch branches. All this is done in fun; Krampus’ main purpose is remind the children to be good.

Yes, carrot and stick.  But of course, by today’s standards of raising the precious little snowflakes, it’s almost a hate crime to even hint to them that their bad behavior might have, well, bad consequences.

Grrrrr….

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

In case you missed it, here is an example of this year’s War on Christmas from our atheist friends, appearing on billboards in several southern cities:

dear santa

 

Says American Atheists, the group sponsoring the campaign, the billboards are aimed at “in-the-closet atheists who are pressured to observe religious traditions during the holidays.”

Uh, huh.  And why shouldn’t they observe said religious traditions?

“Even children know churches spew absurdity, which is why they don’t want to attend services,” American Atheists President David Silverman said in a statement. “Today’s adults have no obligation to pretend to believe the lies their parents believed. It’s OK to admit that your parents were wrong about God, and it’s definitely OK to tell your children the truth.”

Good! Goooooood! Feel the hate flowing through you!

I don’t think it’s just a product of my imagination that the atheist movement seems to be getting shriller and more punitive over the past few years.  They used to run with the line that, hey, they could be loving and ethical, too, even without all that God stuff.   Now they seem to be ramping up, not just refusing to believe, but calling anybody who does believe a liar and an idiot and downright evil.

In a way, I suppose I can understand them.  As a believer, I am sure and certain in my Faith, but if I am somehow wrong, well, what will happen?  After (hopefully) having led a decent existence in devotion to my Imaginary Friend, I will crumble back into the primordial dust completely ignorant of my error.  So what?

On the other hand, I can’t help thinking that deep within even the most strident of atheists lurks a little, tiny voice that asks what if I’m wrong and God does exist?

That must be terrifying, a tiny yet bitter foretaste of what would be in store for them.  And fear is a huge motivator for lashing out.

Eh, it’s a theory.  (As a matter of fact, many of them probably have felt this way for a long time.  It’s only with the current Progressivist blitz on the culchah that they feel they can come out and actually say so this brazenly.)

As for the billboard itself, two things strike me:

If the little girl is too old for fairy tales, um, why is she writing Santa? (Unless, of course, she’s doing so in edgy, hipster-doofus irony.)

Also, do these folks know that Santa is the “fairy tale” version of St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, whose Feast Day is, in fact, tomorrow?  And that not only was St. Nicholas famous for his tremendous generosity, but also a fierce defender of Orthodoxy?  If some smart-assed post-modern kid were to say something like this to the real Nicholas, they’d probably get a worse beat-down than he gave Arius.

Anyhoo, I’ve reached the point in my own development where this sort of thing fills me not so much with anger as with sadness at the pathos.

 

 

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