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YeahGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

Per the recommendation of one of you friends of the decanter, ol’ Robbo popped  Tampopo  into his DVD player this evening.

This was the first time I’d seen this movie.

I got the whole “noodle western/ Seven Samurai” vibe.  Indeed, so far as these things went, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

And I loved the whole cooking theme.  Fact, it made me downright hungry.

What I didn’t get was the whole voluptuary playboy side story.  Lots of gratuitous salt n’ lemon, and passing back and forth of egg yolks, but where, exactly, was the connection to the main plot?  I kept waiting for some kind of showdown between Voluptuous Boy and Tampopo’s cowboy-hatted backer, but no such dice.  Voluptuous Boy [SPOILER ALERT!!] dies in a hail of bullets which, unless I’ve missed something, are completely irrelevant to the plot.

Also, I missed the relevance of the Rich Old Lady who went about putting her thumb-prints in various delicacies.

Never mind, an enjoyable evening and a glass of wine with whomever of you suggested this flick!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Rain and fog all day today allowed ol’ Robbo to duck his usual Saturday task of laboring in the demesne with a clear conscience, that and the detritus of basement reconstruction scattered over so much of it.  So instead, I spent the day lounging in the hammock and rereading a couple of old favorites.

Uncle FredOne was P.G. Wodehouse’s Uncle Fred In The Springtime, which I believe to be the first full-length novel (although he had appeared in at least one earlier short story) concerning the exploits of Frederick Altamont Cornwallis Twistleton, Fifth Earl of Ickenham who, although mature in years, continues to maintain the outlook “of a slightly inebriate undergraduate”.  The book was published in 1938 and I have often argued that Plum was at the very top of his form in the 30’s and early 40’s.  Not only is this one from that period, but so are such standouts as Hot Water, Heavy Weather, The Code of teh Woosters (the best Bertie and Jeeves story, IMHO) and Money In The Bank.

BelisariusThe other was Robert Graves’ Count Belisarius, which tells the story of the famous Byzantine general who won back great chunks of the Roman Empire under Justinian the Great, only to be blinded and beggared at the end of his life.  It’s very well written and the campaigns are quite exciting, but the court intrigue gets to be a bit much and Graves also seems to take a grim pleasure in sneering at Christianity as it struggles to sort out orthodoxy from the various heresies that plagued the age, suggesting that most of the True Believers involved were either hypocrites or lunatics or both.  (Graves, in many of his writings, was very keen on the notion that Christianity stole many of its elements and symbols from older and somehow more “authentic” pagan worship, particularly that of an all-encompassing three-in-one White Goddess native to the Eastern Mediterranean.)

So there was that.

On a different note, because our basement is still all ahoo, we still don’t have cable in the house.  This has been causing some consternation on the part of the Middle Gel because this evening is the premiere episode of the newest incarnation of the Doctor and the gel has this year become an almost rabid Whovian.   However, being the resourceful type that she is, she solved this problem by diplomatically getting herself and Mrs. Robbo invited to a friend’s house for pizza and the big screening.  (It was diplomatic because, prior to the gel working her Big Magic, I don’t believe the friend was even aware of being a Dr. Who fan.  On the other hand, teh gel has been showing Mrs. R reruns in an effort to, ah, indoctrinate her.  I don’t know how successful this effort has been.)

Me, since I’ve been being cultured and stuff all day, I think I’m just going to hold the fort here at Port Swiller Manor and probably indulge in some “Arrested Development” reruns.

 

 

 

 

 

Well, well!  It looks like there’s a new meme in this little corner of the innertoobz, as both Zoopraxiscopean Don and GorT have alighted on a Popular Mechanics article about the 50 “greatest” Sci-Fi teevee shows.  As they did, I will offer my two cents on those shows about which I have any thoughts and or memories:

49.  “Land of the Lost” – Of course I watched this as a kid.  Grumpy the T-Rex gave me the willies.  After a while I lost interest because the story arc about the Sleestax just kept getting weirder and weirder and to have less and less to do with, you know, dinosaurs. (I seem to recall an animated series about a family that gets swept into a dinosaur-infested valley that ran about the same time as well.  Can’t recall its name.)

48.  “Space: 1999″ – I recall watching it only because it was on locally before “Star Trek: TOS”.  I didn’t think it bad, but it never took root in the Robbo braim.

47.  “The Six-Million Dollar Man” – Classic stuff.  When one goes into slow motion and starts saying, “NUH,nuh,nuh,nuh, nuh…..”, everybody of teh right age will know exactly why.  I also had the Steve Austin doll  action figure, complete with bionic eye.

45.  “Knight Rider” – Ooh, watch out for that mean-looking truck, Michael!

36.  “Buck Rodgers In The 25th Century” – Col. Deering.  Mmmmm…..Col. Deering.  (One of my first blog experiences was a bitter debate over the relative merits of Wilma Deering and Princess Ardala.)

32.  “Star Trek: Voyager” – A lot of Trekkies claim this was the worst of all the series.  I’m not really sure why, as it was usually entertaining/exciting enough when I dropped in.  Plus, three words:  Seven Of Nine.

31.  “Lost In Space” – I think it was from this series that I first learned what “camp” means in the entertainment context.  And to this day, I still sometimes flail my arms about chanting, “Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!”  Oh, and young “Johnny” Williams stole quotes straight out of Mussorsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” for some of the incidental musick.

30.  “Battlestar Galactica” (1978-1979) – I loved this show and everything about it (except Boxy and the Daggitt).  Required viewing for me.  I bought and built models of a Colonial Viper and a Cylon ship.  I even bought the soundtrack album and played it over and over again.  That’s how into it I was.

29.  “Futurama” – Another favorite.  My eldest gel in particular cannot understand how something so well done can continue to get cancelled for lack of audience ratings.  In this, she is getting her first lesson in the difference between what is good quality and what is merely popular.

13.  “V” (1983-1985) - Like “Battlestar Galactica”, another Humanity Overcoming Attempts At Oppression story, only this time set on Earth.  I don’t remember much anymore, but liked it a lot at the time, perhaps in part because of the cat-fighting alien leader chicks.  (Robbo is really a pretty simple fellah when it comes down to it.)

11.  “Firefly” – I came to this late (long after it had been cancelled), but liked it enough to buy the DVD box set and run through it every couple of months or so.  I thought the series superior to the movie (“Serenity”).

6.  “Star Trek: TOS” – One of the major influences on my misspent yoot.  I’d say that a lot of the “messaging” in TOS probably went rocketing right over my young head, as I was more in love just with the concept of the Enterprise traveling across the heavens.  Oh, and let me be clear about something here:  There is only one James Tiberius Kirk.  When I become emperor of the world, “reboots” will constitute a flogging offense.

3.  “Star Trek: NG” – I will give the series credit.  After its first few seasons going over the top trying to establish its liberal creds, it eventually calmed down and got somewhat better.  (It remained rooted in progressivist utopian fantasy, of course, but stopped beating teh drum so damned hard.)  You can follow Troi’s costume as a kind of barometer of this transformation.  In the early shows, she sported that home-spun hippy looking body suit.  Eventually, they put her back in a regulation uniform (and focused less on what she was “sensing” of everybody’s “feelings”).  Of the movies, I think “First Contact” was probably the best.

1.  “Dr. Who” – Well, yes.  I was a pretty big Tom Baker fan back in the day, but haven’t paid any attention in years.  Meanwhile, teh Middle Gel has become an outright fanatic.

 

N.C. Wyeth, "One More Step, Mr. Hands" - Illustration for Treasure Island.

N.C. Wyeth, “One More Step, Mr. Hands” – Illustration for Treasure Island.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Recently, ol’ Robbo found himself with a hankering for some straight-from-the-shoulder adventure books.  To this end, he absolutely devoured P.C. Wren’s French Foreign Legion trilogy, Beau Geste, Beau Sabreur and Beau Ideal (together with numerous short stories relating to the Family Geste), as well as Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.

I admit that in my nearly fifty years on this earth I had read none of these books before this current summah.  And yes, I denounce myself.

What fun! What absolute fun!  On the other hand, what an almost pathetic sense of nostalgia for a former time, for an era in which Western Civilization – and specifically, Anglo-Saxon Western Civilization – was unapologetically muscular and self-confident.  Ironical, ain’t it, that I’m just now coming to them in the last embers of said civilization.  Rayther like a mid-5th Century Roman stumbling across the works of Virgil and Horace and Livy, I suppose.

Anyhoo,  what can one do but play the hand one is dealt?  I am indulging myself further with Stevenson’s Kidnapped and its sequel, Catriona, and would be delighted with any other suggestions for similar works that any friends of the decanter may care to offer.  (I should note that any recommendations of the works of James Fenimore Cooper will be met with cold but polite silence.)

I Don't Like This Guy

I Don’t Like This Guy

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Please pardon the post-hols silence from your humble host, but we’ve been having another outbreak of the Joys of Home-Ownership here at Port Swiller Manor this week.  Would you like to hear about it?  Super! Thanks for asking!

Whelp, ol’ Robbo had gone down the office Tuesday as per usual, leaving teh gels home to squander some of their last remaining summah vacation time.  (Mrs. R had stayed up in Connecticut for a couple extra days to visit with her parents and grandmother.)

If you will recall, Tuesday was a day of torrential rains throughout much of the South-East and Mid-Atlantic.  The area immediately around the port swiller demesne was no exception.

About midday, I got a call from the Middle Gel.

“Daaaaaad, there’s a puddle in the [basement] study!” she said.

“Well,” I replied, thinking it was just some wet coming through a window frame,”just drop a towel on it for now.”

“Okay,” she said.

A bit later, she called back.

“Um, Dad, the puddle is getting bigger.”

“Well,  put down some more towels.”

This back and forth went on for a while.  Finally, I suggested she call Mrs. X, a friend of ours who was on stand-bye babysitting duty in case the gels needed immediate assistance while I was off at work.

A short while later I learned that what had originally been described to me as a mere “puddle” was, in fact, a couple inches of water spreading rapidly across the entire basement floor.  At this point, I did what any sensible husband would do and called Mrs. Robbo.

“Mooommy!” I said.

Mrs. R then leapt into action from afar, getting hold of our contractor, who in turn immediately sent a crew along to start damage control.

It was only when I got home that evening that I learned of the full scope of the thing:  Carpet ruined.  Pergo in my study ruined.  Baseboards gone.  Bottom of drywall saturated.  In addition, I found that the  Internet servy-routy-thingamajig was dead (as was the printer), which is why I have not had access to the Webz until this evening.

Oh, and a consultation with our soon-to-be-former homeowner’s insurance revealed their attitude that once rain hit the ground, it was our problem, not theirs.  (I picked a hell of a week to quit moonlighting as a drug mule.)

It was also only when I got home that I learned the youngest gel had been trying to unplug things while standing in the flood.  I believe I aged several years right about then.

So what was the cause, you ask?  The rain was coming down so heavily that it overwhelmed all the drainage measures out front and ponded up against the house directly above the basement wall.  It then found its way down between the cinderblocks (which have been showing signs of age, wear and tear for some time) and bled out into the basement at a rate far, far greater than anything I’ve ever seen in 14+ years of residence here.   I blame Manbearpig.

So you lot know what all this means, of course?  That’s right, MOAR RENOVATIONS!

For one thing, they’re going to have to excavate at the side of the house to come at the leaky basement wall and repair it.  They”re also going to put in new floors in the basement (Pergo all the way this time), replace the two feet of drywall they had to cut out all the way around and install a sump pump.  Mrs. R, seeing an opportunity, has also declared that what was once nominally my workshop is going to be converted into another bathroom for the use of houseguests who stay at the Manor.  (The study doubles as a guest room, you see, and to date lodgers have been forced to endure the horrors of the gels’ bathroom upstairs if they wanted to shower up.)

In the meantime, of course, we’ve had to move all the furniture and things out of the basement and are presently working out places in which to stuff them for the duration of the project.  Also, although I got Verizon to run a cable up to a new router in the living room, we won’t have access to the teevee downstairs until it’s all put back together again.

As you can imagine, everything is all ahoo at the moment and probably will be for some time.

At any rate, there you have it.   Seeing as I will not be able to watch my beloved Nationals on the teevee or listen to my stereo in the evening for the foreseeable future, I imagine I may spend rayther more time hanging around here than usual.

UPDATE:  Spent much of the morning moving things out of the basement and trying to jury-rig something close to normalcy.  Not much hope of that, but at the least I managed to set up my stereo and CD player in a corner of the living room so I can listen to musick (with headphones, of course).  I also found a place for the little teevee and DVD player, so I can carry on Netflixing.  So I’ve got that going for me.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, Daddy is home from Peru.  (Spot the riff, if you can.  I’m actually back from Maine, of course.)

All in all, a fairly relaxing week staring at the bay, marred only by the fact that ol’ Robbo neglected to pack his tummy medicine before setting out, in part out of 4 ack emma sloth, in part because he figured that the absence of the usual workaday stresses would render said meds unnecessary.

Well, I was wrong about that.  After the last dosage had cleared the ol’ system, the Port-Swiller tummy began to do a thoroughly unpleasant buck-and-wing, in turn rendering your host somewhat, shall we say, dyspeptic to those around him.  After a few days, Mrs. R got so tired of it that she went into town herself, found some more meds, returned to teh cottage and shoved them at me with a curt, “Take them, dammit!”

Ah, middle age……

Anyhoo, a few odds and ends:

♦   Made the run from Westport, CT to Port Swiller Manor in the wilds of NoVA in 4 1/2 hours yesterday morning, including two Indy-like pit stops.  Not that I’ve ever kept a log or anything, but I believe this to be a personal medal run.   I’m not a reckless driver, but I’ve always been somewhat lead-footed, especially when traffic is relatively light, as it was Sunday morning.  (Note, however, to that red van with Indiana plates:  If you insist on doing 65 mph on the south end of the Jersey Turnpike, do it in the right-hand lane, for Heaven’s sake!  You’ve no idea how many near-accidents I saw involving hot-heads trying to get around you.)

♦   We had a friend come in and house-sit for us while we were away.  I was delighted to see that all the porch plants survived and thrived in our absence and that none of the cats was killed by the others.  Oddly, it seemed to me that the two kittens (a little over a year old now) appear to have grown in our absence.  I always thought cats reached full stature in about a year, but teh gels insist that their growth cycle is longer than that.  Any of you know?

♦  Speaking of growth, I also was delighted to note that the jasmine I planted earlier this year – about which  friends of the decanter may recall my blathering at length – all have new leaves on them, a sign that they like where they have been put.  And while we’re on the subject of gardening, I would also note that I have a climbing rose out front, an Improved Blaze.  For some years I have not touched the thing, and it gradually got so tall as to start getting tangled in the second-story gutter.  This would be fine, except that every year after its glorious bloom and when the weather started hotting up, it would promptly shed all its leaves, rendering me open to snide remarks from teh Middle Gel about putting out the Halloween decorations too early.  Well, this year I decided on radical action:  After it was done blooming, I cut the thing way, way back (to about four feet high, in fact).  For a number of weeks I had nothing but a handful of canes left and thought I might have killed it, but this morning I noticed new shoots on each and every one of them.   Yay.

♦   I read four books while loafing about the Port-Swiller summah cottage:

-   Hercules, My Shipmate by Robert Graves, a rendering of the tale of Jason and the Argonauts in the form of an historickal novel.  I’ve read this book many times before.  Once you get past Graves’ paganism (I think he really believed his carryings-on about an ancient, all-encompassing Mother Goddess usurped by the followers of more recent fraudulent religions – including Christianity), it’s a jolly fun and rayther lusty adventure story.

-  Haydn’s Visits to England by Christopher Hogwood, a delightful little book (an extended essay, really) giving a day-to-day overview of Papa’s doings in Blighty.  One thing I learned (this was my first time reading it) was that the Prince Regent was very, very attentive to Haydn during his visits.  Good.  I think very little of George IV in the main, but credit where it is due.

- Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg.  Just to keep my ire up against that rat-bastard Jean-Jacques Rousseau and all of his ideological spawn who have dedicated themselves to establishing Heaven on Earth, even at the need of putting millions of said Earth’s inhabitants to fire and sword for their own good.   The book came out in January 2008 but seems all the more timely now.  (Incidentally, I’ve decided to devote a deal of time this fall to rereading Locke, Smith and Burke and to finally introducing myself directly to Hayek.)

- The Commitments by Roddy Doyle.  I’ve long been a fan of the movie (which I’ll probably pop in when I’m done with this post), but this was my first time reading the novel, which Mrs. R picked up for me somewhere for a dollar.  What a lot of fun!  And how refreshing to find a young author (he was about 29 when he wrote it) who isn’t a first-class, self-absorbed, whiney wanker.  I’m curious about how those more Doyle-conscious than me think about the differences between book and movie:  The latter, while, I think, adhering nicely to the tone of the book, did turn Joey The Lips inside out as a character, and its soundtrack had very, very little overlap with that of the former, but most of the differences strike me as de minims.   Was Doyle involved in teh movie?

♦  Didn’t look at the Innertoobs a single time while on hols, so I’ve much on which to catch up.  What did I miss?  (I see this evening that Robin Williams killed himself.  Depression, apparently.  I despised much about him during his career, but you hate to see something like this happen to anybody.)

♦  To be honest, however, I did ask teh gels to keep me posted on my beloved Nats’ doings while we were away.   From what I see at this point, I am (touching wood) pretty confident that we are going to win the NL East.  On the other hand, I also think the Dodgers are going to win the NL pennant and that the A’s will beat them in the Series.

♦  Whelp, now that the summah hols are over and ol’ Robbo turns his attention to the impending start of school and other fall activities, I have to ask:  Just where the hell did this year get to?

coveGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

Whelp, it’s the end of July/beginning of August, so regular friends of the decanter know what that means ’round here…..

Yes, ol’ Robbo is packing up the Port Swiller Family and heading for Maine, there to recharge his depleted batteries by loafing for a week out on the deck, filling his lungs with clean sea-air, spending the days in idle contemplation of the bay and the nights in more concentrated contemplation of adult beverages…..

In short, by not doing a damned thing.  I simply cannot understand people who feel that a vacation must entail the constant scrambling from one place to another – attractions, amusement parks, landmarks – and the pursuit  (he closes his eyes as he types this) of experiences.

Feh, just thinking about such a programme makes ol’ Robbo tarred.   No, thankee.

Anyhoo, be back later…..

sandeman port sherryGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is jumping the gun by a couple hours but to modify a common truism, it’s midnight somewhere.  Therefore, allow me to note that July 30, 2008 was the birthday of this blog and that it turns six today.

Three cheers and a tiger for me!

Of course, things aren’t what they were back then in terms of freedom of expression, and prudence has dictated that I curtail a good deal of what I would like to say concerning our sinking civilization, so discussions over the decanter have centered on the realm of the arcane, the trivial and the unobjectionable, but still, here I am.

And here you are.  Or at least those of you who are still here.  “Not near as many as there where a while ago,” as that song about the Battle of New Orleans would put it, but still very much welcome and appreciated.  (Besides, there’s more port, Stilton and chestnuts for us what’s left, right?)

And so, if I may, I ask that you all charge your glasses, gunn’ls under.  Here’s to TPSAYE with three times three and no heel-taps!  (And don’t forget to tip the dancer!)

UPDATE:  Mayun, I didn’t just jump the gun when I first put this post up, I got a hundred yards downrange and then took a bullet right between the shoulder blades!   Calendars.  What can you do?  Personally, I blame the Patriarchy.

Anyhoo, I’m now reposting to reflect the correct date of our little anniversary.  Any of you still in a more or less upright position should feel free to recharge your glasses and toast it again.

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Because the question I posed  below is the kind of thing that, if I don’t stamp it right out, will sit and burn a hole in my brain, I did a little research and actually found the show I was thinking of.  It was called “Westwind” and ran for about a dozen episodes in the winter of ’74-’75.  Here’s the intro:

 

I was more or less right about my dim recollection.  It’s the story of a family who tool around the Hawaiian Islands in a sailboat and find themselves in various adventures.  The sketchy synopses I’ve been able to dig up center around smugglers and pirates and storms and scary animals and don’t seem to speak directly to the lost Japanese soldier, but I’m pretty sure that bit in the intro where something goes boom in front of the dad came from that episode.

Guess the only part I forgot about was the mom.  Well, I was only nine at the time, so perhaps this is understandable.  Couple years later, she would have been the first thing to grab my attention.

So that’s that.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Somewhere or other today, ol’ Robbo came across a reference on the innertoobs to going for a car ride just for its own sake.

Does anybody really do that anymore, what with gas nudging four bucks a gallon?

Anyhoo, the reference triggered my own memories of the very few times my family just “went for a ride” in my misspent yoot.

I hated them.

Even then, and much more so these days, the idea of getting into a car for any other purpose than to get from Point A to Point B  in the minimum possible time absolutely appalled me.

(Shudder.)

I got thinking about this because we are now within two weeks of the annual Port Swiller Family trek up tah Maine.  According to Mapquest, the drive is 592 miles door-to-door, which sounds about right, and 9 hours, 31 minutes, which is absolute baloney.  (We’ve only made the trip in one fell swoop once.  It took us 13 hours.)

I don’t mind the distance so much, because I know I’m aiming for a specific target.  If somebody told me I had to sit in a car for that length of time (or any length of time) just to wander aimlessly about?  I’d slit my wrists without hesitation.

UPDATE:  When I mentioned the 13-hour trip to Maine to Mrs. R, she reminded me that we got caught up in several terrible accident-related snarls that day and that this blew our schedule all to hell.  She’s right, of course, now that I think on it more.  Given the right traffic conditions, I can hit Bahston in something just over seven and a half from the gates of Port Swiller Manor, and it isn’t much above two hours more to our little piece o’ Paradise from there.

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