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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.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

The latest “Weird” Al Yankovich bit-o’-silly is making its way around the Innertoobs.  I repost it here for those of you (yes, Mothe, I’m looking at you) who haven’t seen it elsewhere already.  Enjoy!

 

I gather this is a parody of some other song (as most of Big Weird Al’s stuff is), but I don’t know the other song so that part is lost on me.   Nonetheless,  I find the piece amusing because by today’s sub-sea level standards of literacy ol’ Robbo is considered something of a Grammar Nazi and it is, if you will, musick to my ears.

It’s really rayther horrifying when you think about it.  The basic rules touched on by Al are the sort of thing one was expected to master in grammar school just a generation ago.  (Personally, I adored sentence diagrams.)  These days?  Cor lumme, stone the crows!  I work with other lawyers, holders of graduate degrees who depend on their literacy for their livelihoods.  Nevertheless, again and again and again I find myself having to detangle badly-written documents – everything from emails to court pleadings to peer-reviewed academic studies.  Indeed, I’ve actually developed an informal office consulting practice, as several of my colleagues routinely send me drafts of their work product and ask me to look them over.

Well, that’s “Progress” for you.

Oh, and speaking of past generations and grammatical education for the masses, let me just point out that many, many of the grammar ditties from the Schoolhouse Rock series aired on Saturday mornings during Robbo’s misspent yoot are still tattooed to his brain.  Let’s jump in the Wayback Machine and enjoy one of Robbo’s favorites, shall we?

 

 

UPDATE:   Thinking further on on the subject of SHR, I’m reminded of a different, non-grammar-themed one that I don’t actually recall ever seeing when I was a kid, but which certainly seems apropos today:

 

UPDATE DEUX:  Oh, I forgot to mention this bit o’vanity.  The fellah in the “Conjunction Junction” song pronounces “either” and “neither” as “ee-ther” and “nee-ther“.  One of my affectations developed a long time ago was to adopt the Hanovarian pronunciations of “eye-ther” and “nye-ther“.   Pretentious? Moi?

 

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo has finally had enough.  He has tried for a long time to stifle his sensibilities, to bite his tongue, to be tolerant and to otherwise keep his head down and not rock the boat, but he simply can’t stand to see such decadence, debauchery and moral anarchy anymore:

Yes, I’m talking about marzipan. The word is NOT pronounced, “MAR-ZEE-pan“, dammit.  It’s “MAR-zə-pan“.

Oh, I know that as soon as I hit the “publish” button I’m going to be inundated with insults, threats and howls of outrage from the tiny but very vocal “Pro-Zee” crowd.  There’ll be Facebook rants, boycotts, petitions for my banning from these Innertoobs and, probably, even hate-crime prosecution.  I’ll become a hissing and a byword, just one more example of the eeeeevil, reactionary haters that must be expunged from Society before the Brave New World can properly get down to business.

But you know what?  Truth is Truth and even where Right becomes unfashionable, it’s still Right.  If I must needs go to the gallows or the wall for it, I will.

Vive le Schwa! 

seven elevenGreetings, my fellow port swillers!  And happy Feast of the Overpriced Convenience Store!

Sorry about the dearth of posties this week – it may be that ol’ Robbo’s brain has passed into the doldrums as it so often does this time of year.  At any rate, here are a few odds and ends to make up for it.

♦  I took advantage of a day off from work today to get an early start on my weekend yard work, my main task being to slap a coat of wood sealant on the inside surfaces of the porch posts.  (The outer surfaces are faced by some kind of weatherproof poly stuff but the other three are bare PTL.  They’ve been up for almost a year now and are nice and seasoned.)  For about 30 seconds or so I flirted with the idea of maybe staining them, but at the last regained my sanity and went with a clear sealant with a light gloss instead.   It turned out to be a much easier and faster job than I had originally feared, as I found I could easily get around the railing and other edges without all that tedious taping up biznay.

♦   While I was going about my task, I noticed something I had not known before:  A woodchuck will climb a chicken wire fence if it’s feeling greedy enough.

♦  The middle gel sang at a funeral down the Cathedral this morning for a woman whose son had himself been a chorister there many years ago and thought it would be a fitting thing for her, if any of the current crop were available and interested.  About a week ago, therefore, a request for volunteers went out and the gel, being the kind of gel she is, stepped up along with two or three others.  They sang Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desire.  I thought the gesture was really very, very sweet.

♦  One of Mrs. Robbo’s nieces is flying down from Baahston on Monday to spend a week with us and see the sights.  Yesterday, Mrs. R’s sistah sent her a copy of the gel’s plane ticket, on which Mrs. R noticed that her sistah had paid for two checked bags.  Mrs. R immediately got on the phone and said, “Look, I don’t do checked bags.  We’ve got a washing machine and, in an emergency, the gel can borrow whatever she might need from my lot.  Carry-on only.”  I thought that very amusing.

♦  Speaking of gels, within the past month or two, I have heard several very different women in very different geographical locations using the phrase, “get her big girl pants on” or “get her big girl britches on”.  Is this a thing?  It must have some common source, but I work so hard to disassociate myself from pop “culchah” that I just don’t know what this might be.

♦  And speaking of hearing things, one of the most chilling things I’ve heard in recent memory was a colleague of mine down the office this week using the expression “Brave New World” without irony.   Telephone call for Gods of the Copybook Headings.  Will the Gods of the Copybook Headings please pick up the white courtesy phone.  Thank you.

♦  Finally, speaking of Kipling, I am deep into P.C. Wren’s Beau Geste for the very first time.  I won’t review it here since I’m not done but I will say that I’m enjoying it very, very much.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Last evening ol’ Robbo popped in the latest new-to-me Netflix DVD, “In A World“.

The film is a quirky story about the fight to replace Hollywood legend Don Lafontaine as the top dog among movie preview voiceover specialists.  The story pits its protagonist,  a hipster-doofus underachieving voice-coach gal, against her second-fiddle father and his smarmy, disgusting, hot-shot protege.  The secondary plot involves the protagonist’s sister and her husband, in a walking-dead marriage, suddenly having to deal with a terrible misunderstanding.

My opinion?  Meh.

The film seemed somewhat thin.  Well, very thin, actually.  It didn’t go into much detail in terms of character development and left me with a fair number of questions about motives.  Also, the whole business with the surreptitious recordings was pretty contrived and unconvincing, and the near-rape “encounter” between the protagonist and the smarmy rival left me appalled my its amorality.

If you want a meaty story that combines a rich plot-line with the technical arcana of theatrical vocals, stick with “The King’s Speech“.

One out of five bumpers.

Next up, safe bet “The Guns of Navarone“.

And speaking of which, check out this video – via the Puppy Blender – of a firework display taken from inside by a drone-mounted camera.  My first reaction was to think that watching this would cause any veteran combat pilot to go into conniptions.   My second was to reaffirm my dislike of the hyper-intrusive nature of drone technology.  On the other hand, I must confess that the film is  both beautiful and fascinating.  Enjoy!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Independence Day!

Ol’ Robbo has so far celebrated the country’s birthday today by getting up at the crack of dawn to nip out to southwestern Pennsylvania to retrieve the younger gels from their summah camp.

On the way home this afternoon, cresting the various heights of the Allegheny, Blue Ridge and Catoctin ranges, we could actually see Hurricane Arthur on the far eastern horizon, a solid bank of cloud with smaller, darker strata scudding around its edges and that incredibly vibrant blue sky above which, I read somewhere, has something to do with the enormous amounts of ozone that a hurricane flings into the upper atmosphere.

Meanwhile, the wind has been whipping out of the northwest all day – straight toward the thing.  One could almost see the air being dragged in by that enormous low pressure vacuum.  These macro moments always give ol’ Robbo a bit of a shiver.

Just thought I’d share.

Anyhoo, I am now taking a break with the help of Dr. Pimm before I set about getting ready to grill burgers and dogs for a few friends we’re having over to Port Swiller Manor.  I gather the idea is for some of us to go on over to the local high school to see our municipal fireworks display afterward.   I hope all y’all have an equally festive day today!

 

world endGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

Last evening, per the recommendation of one of you lot, ol’ Robbo sat down to watch The World’s End.

Somehow or other it had completely escaped me that this film was made by Edgar Wright, the same fellah who did Shaun of the Dead (which is also in my Netflix queue).  So I really didn’t know what to expect.

The set-up was fairly straightforward:  20 years after their graduation from school,  Gary King (Earth’s nearest equivalent to Zaphod Beeblebrox) reassembles his now respectable and prosperous mates to re-attempt an epic pub-crawl that they had failed to finish in their yoot in the sleepy little English town where they went to school.

Somehow or other, I thought this was just going to be a British buddy-romp, with lots of hijinks and the obligatory re-bonding/closure of long-supressed issues thrown in.

Which it was – and enjoyably so, I might add – until it suddenly – or as the MSM likes to say of bad economic news these days, unexpectedly – turned into Westworld, or perhaps The Stepford Hipsters.  Anyway, there were robots.  Lots of ‘em.  Not that these other themes  disappeared, mind you.  Rayther, they continued to work themselves out while at the same time the protagonists were getting chased about by alien-crafted robots in a lead up to the Apocalypse.  Or something.

I think that if I were about twenty or thirty years younger than I am, this genre probably would appeal to me a lot more than it does.  ( I hit the big 5-0 in January.)   Fact of the matter is that while I find I can remain loyal to teh SciFy of my misspent yoot (which see the gratuitous Zaphod reference above),  I really can’t find much enthusiasm for things I’m seeing for the first time now that I’m older. (The single exception to this is Firefly, which I only got into about four years ago, but is really more of a space western than anything else.)

So I thank whoever recommended this film.  I still intend to watch Shaun, and maybe it will be different because I already know it involves zombies.  But I have to say that The End of the World didn’t really rock mine.

Call it two bumpers out of five, but remember that I’m rapidly becoming that grumpy old coot telling the kids to git off’n my lawn.

Next up (although not tonight, because I’m going to watch my beloved Nats WITH the return of Bryce Harper), In A World, the story of a girl trying to break into the movie-trailer voice-over racket in the shadow of her highly-successful father.   I hope it doesn’t get too Gawd-help-us.

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