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entry-into-jerusalem_Giotto

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and an ambiguously happy Palm Sunday!  Yes, today we join the jubilant crowd who thinks the long-awaited Massias has finally returned in triumph to turn the Roman garrison into pumpkins, clean house in the Sanhedrin, restore Israel to her former glory and take the hammer to all her enemies, knowing full well that this same crowd, in just a few days, will come to see Jesus as a complete dud and start howling for his blood.   It’s a complicated moment.

Owing to unexpected circumstances too tedious to relate, ol’ Robbo wound up going to early Mass this morning and so missed the procession of palms at his usual noon Traditional Latin Mass.  In years past this likely would have prompted a fair bit of grumping and grumbling on my part, but I’ve been working hard on improving my patience and charity and find that this kybosh only produces a passing wistfulness in me this year.  Is it possible that ol’ Robbo is actually growing in teh Spirit?

Maybe, but it’s equally possible that something else will reduce me to the gnashing of teeth at some point in the not too distant future, so I’m not going to get cocky.

Anyhoo, I just wanted to note for the two or three who gather here together that I am putting the stopper on the decanter and sticking the Stilton in the fridge for Holy Week but will be breaking  forth again after Easter.  I hope those of you who celebrate will have a truly holy week and I’ll see all of you on the other side.

Royal Ugly Dude

Royal Ugly Dude

As Robbo’s beloved Nationals had an afternoon meeting today (sweeping the Feesh, I may add), this evening’s entertainment consisted of a rerunning of the very excellent 1989 movie, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

Although I’ve seen this movie something better than twenty times already, our old VCR gave up the ghost several years back and I only had a tape of it.  So it was because I tossed the DVD into the Netflix queue on a whim recently that I got to see it again tonight.

I must say the movie holds up surprisingly well after all these years.  It’s light-hearted, silly and yet morally sound at the same time.  (The sequel, which took itself waaaaay too seriously, was comparatively rotten.)  It’s also full of most excellent quotes.  Perhaps my favorite exchange is this between Bill and Ted’s little brother, Deacon:

Bill:  You ditched Napoleon?  Deacon! Do you realize you’ve stranded one of Europe’s greatest leaders in San Dimas?

Deacon:  He was a dick!

I love that.

As for the “history” presented in teh film, Robbo was reminded once again of his sole real gripe about it, which you will have to endure here since this is my blog.  And it is this:

Among the historickal periods which Bill and Ted visit was that of 15th Century England, where Bill says, “That must be the castle of King Henry.”  There, he and Ted come across two babe princesses, identified as Joanna and Elizabeth.  Eventually, both of them are whisked away to 1989 San Dimas by Rufus the time-traveler and join Bill and Ted’s band, Wild Stallyons.

Well, okay.  But the only King Henry of 15th Century England was Henry VII.  He had no daughter named Joanna. He did, indeed, have daughters named Margaret and Elizabeth (and also Mary and Katherine), but Margaret died when she was 10 and Elizabeth when she was 3.  Hardly what Ted would call “historickal babes”.

I only bring this up because all of the other historickal characters encountered by Bill and Ted – the aforementioned Napoleon, Socrates, St. Joan of Arc, Billy the Kid, Abe Lincoln, Sigmund Freud and Beethoven- are at least plausible.  It’s always struck me that this vague reference to a medieval “King Henry” and his babe daughters was a piece of sloppy shorthand on the part of the writers.

Oh, and git off my lawn.

By the way, the older this film gets, the more prophetic one of its throwaway lines gets.  I’m speaking, of course, of the oral history report given by “Ox” Robbins in which he tries in his jock way to describe an historickal view of the modern world:

 “Everything is different, but the same… things are more moderner than before… bigger, and yet smaller… it’s computers “

Yep.  What else can one say to this than, “SAN DIMAS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL RULES!!

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Those of you keeping track of Robbo’s latest home improvement project will be interested to know that I spent the better part of the day today cutting, fitting and screwing in lattice panels. A glass of wine with those of you who gave advice – I used two inch wood screws spaced about a foot or so apart and pre-drilled the lattice.  The end result looks and feels quite solid, even with the strong winds we had today.   I’m not actually done yet, as the charge in my drill ran down and I had to come to a stopping point in time to get to the store for dins food, but I’m a good two-thirds/three-quarters of the way through, and as far as the construction goes I feel I could plant my jasmine tomorrow if I really wanted to.  (I can’t, as a matter of fact, because as soon as I’m done with noon Mass I have to take teh youngest gel off to a make-up softball game.  I’m also not yet convinced we’re completely out of the frost zone.  But never mind.)

I should note that I was aided and abetted by teh Middle Gel, whose primary task was to “hold things”.  This is an old joke in my family.  When my brother and I were lads, the Old Gentleman used to put us to work in the yard practically every weekend.  Somehow the meme developed that he only really wanted the company and that our tasks actually consisted of nothing more than “holding things”.  The phrase eventually entered the family lexicon.

As a matter of fact, he worked us like serfs: clearing rocks; digging flower beds; filling flower beds; hauling brush, firewood, stones and railroad ties; laying sod; weeding; mowing; planting; watering – you name it.   We hated every minute of it, in part because the work was often back-breaking, the weather beastly hot and the menace perpetual that the next thing we picked up would have either a snake or a scorpion lurking under it, but mostly because we felt it monstrously unfair that Sistah somehow always got away with not having to contribute to the cause.  (She was nominally supposed to help teh Mothe with indoor tasks, but we knew perfectly well that she in fact spent most of the time skulking in her room listening to Adam Ant records – and let her try denying it.)

Anyhoo, teh Gel was, in fact, immensely useful in her task of, er, holding things – the panels, to be specific.  It is physically impossible to brace a 4×8 panel up against beams and at the same time screw it in, so I literally could not have done the job without her.  My plan, in all fairness, is to draft teh Youngest Gel to help me with the rest.

There were no real mishaps today, either in terms of mistakes or accidents.  The closest I came was when I nicked the end of my thumb with my handsaw.  Anyone who has ever met teh Gel will readily assert that she is one of the sweetest and most sympathetic of souls.  What those who don’t live with her everyday may miss is that she can be startlingly phlegmatic and deadpan at times.  So when she noticed that I had cut myself, she simply said, “I see you’re getting blood all over everything.”

What could I do but reply equally coolly, “Yeah, I know.”

Anyhoo, a good day.  I’ve been feeling a bit in the dumps the last few weeks and this was just the tonic – fresh air and exercise and a plan working out- that I think I needed.  Now if you will excuse me, I’m off to grill a large steak on the bar-b and to get ready for an evening of watching my beloved Nats (hopefully) taking their first win off the Braves.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers, and a happy Opening Day!  (Those of you who say, “WHAT opening day?” shall be cast into the outer darkness where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth.)  Let’s go to the traditional video, shall we:

Nats Hat

 

Of course, I post this in a semi-cheat of happiness, because ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nats  won their season opener this afternoon, taking out teh Mets 9-7 in 10 innings.  (I confess that I kept open an innertoobs window to MLB Gameday to follow teh game while I was at work.  Bad Robbo.  Naughty, unproductive Robbo.  If Zoot and Dingle of Castle Anthrax are available, I guess I’ll just have to take my punishment valiantly.   Because, you know, I’m very valiant.)

Anyhoo, so here we go, and here’s to the next six months of bliss!

UPDATE:  Our Maximum Leader, in comments to another post below, suggests that we need to meet up for a Nats’ game this summah.  I concur completely.   Who, among you local friends of teh decanter are with us?  Let me know, either via comments or teh email (found in the “About” thingy in the upper right).

UPDATED DEUX:  On re-reading the above 24 hours later, I confess that “semi-cheat of happiness” is a rayther bizarre expression.  I think what I meant was that my enthusiasm for the day would have been curtailed somewhat had the Nats managed to blow the game.

Better hang on to that bucket, Bob, 'cos denial ain't just a river in Egypt.

Better hang on to that bucket, Bob, ‘cos denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Regular friends of the decanter who have been paying any attention of the past couple weeks will recall ol’ Robbo’s project to lattice up the pillars of the back porch so as to give some lovely jasmine vines a place to grow.

Well, tomorrow was going to be the Big Day.  The lattice panels are here, I’ve got a saw, a new drill and a fistful of wood screws, and we are good to go.

Except.

The forecast now is that Ma Nature is planning to deluge the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor with rain over the weekend.  Back when I was a new, young homeowner some 20 years ago, this probably wouldn’t have mattered to me, and I would have been out there in the downpours industriously idiotically doing the things that I thought needed to be done.  Now? Meh.  I’m going to stay inside, drink lots of coffee and watch, “Tora! Tora! Tora!” which just arrived from Netflix today.

Maybe next weekend……

By the bye, it’s been quite a long time since I had any direct contact with kid’s shows.  Is Bob the Builder still a thing?  And while I’m on the subject, what’s up with the Wiggles these days?  And am I correct in my heartfelt hope that Barney lies dead in some remote gulch, his utterly inedible carcass of no use to the vultures, but instead being used to line birds’ nests?   (Ain’t it odd how something you thought at one time would cause you to puncture your eardrums and gouge out  your eyes with a screwdriver eventually subsides to the point where you can barely even remember it?)

My Lenten fast this year (at least the one that stuck) is to refrain from listening to musick.

I am not yet at that level of religious purity that I can compel myself, by not listening to musick, to stop thinking about it.   The past week, a particular piece has fastened itself on my brain, so this evening I am indulging in it.   And so, my fellow friends of the decanter, I give you Georg Frideric Handel’s Concerto Grosso, Opus 3, No. 1 in B-flat major:

The first movement, and ol’ George’s use of those arpeggios in particular, has been on my mind all week.  I don’t especially know why, but there is a good-natured air to the movement that somehow gives me strength and vitality.

 

Ancient Roman Fresco Painting of Flora Picking FlowersGreetings, my fellow port swillers and Happy Spring!

Regular friends of the decanter and former camelidophiles will know that ol’ Robbo is in the habit of regularly posting this ancient Roman fresco of Flora picking flowers on the first official day of Spring.   I have always found it to be a particularly delightful work of art, the Goddess lovingly portrayed in a graceful, dignified and yet uplifting manner, and a source of hope and inspiration.

Well, I wish that this year ol’ Flora would drop the bouquet and devote her divine powers to putting her knee to Snow Miser’s groin, as he’s  really outstayed his welcome.  We already had a mid-March snowstorm this week and now the weather-wallahs are making noise about the possibility of another one next week.  This week’s seems to have been dubbed Snow Patrick’s.  Will next Tuesday’s predicted event be dubbed the Snownunciation?   (Somehow, I doubt it, but a Catholic geek can always hope.)

Anyhoo, I know that friends of the decanter in more northerly climbs than mine will only chuckle at my frustration, but of course these things are all a matter of scale and expectation.   (Remember, I grew up in South Texas.  By this time of year down there, I’d already be sweating.)  And frankly, the mid-Atlantic in mid-March should not be experiencing the same kind of weather as teh Mothe normally gets at this time of year in Mid-Coast Maine.    It just ain’t right!

Damn you, Algore! Damn you to heeeelllll!!!!!!

-Pause-

On a somewhat related note, teh Middle Gel has bagged herself a ticket to go see a concert next week by an outfit I’d never heard of called  The Piano Guys.  This evening, as an example of their output, she showed me their mash-up of “Winter” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with “Let It Go” from the recent Disney movie “Frozen”:

Weyeell,  I frankly think that the crossover from the one work to the other is a bit, erm, jarring.  And I, personally, would  have preferred  to take the Vivaldi neat.  On the other hand, who am I to criticize at 14 year old these days whose tastes aren’t of the thumpa-thumpa-thumpa-yo-yo-yo-dawgz n’ beyotches variety?

However, while watching the video together, I was reminded suddenly of a yootoob I had seen several times of the third movement of ol’ Antonio’s flute concerto “The Goldfinch”, RV 428*.  I could not immediately find it but promised teh gel that I would do so this evening and post it here for her pleasure.  And here it is:

I hope teh gel takes me up on this and actually watches the durn thing.  Frankly, Ol’ Robbo is something  of a purist himself when it comes to art musick, disdaining “multi-media” stunts to get people interested in it, but I can’t deny that this is an excellent performance.

* There’s an old joke about Vivaldi in musick geek circles.  We have a catalogue of approximately 500 concerti credited to him.  The joke goes that he really only wrote two but that he wrote each one 250 times.  N’yuk, n’yuk.n’yuk.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Long time friend of the decanter Diane dropped a comment linking to a story this week about a recent minor kerfluffle between Robbo’s beloved Nationals and the FAA over the former’s use of unlicensed drones to snap pics of their spring training games.

I’d seen this story myself and I guess my first reaction was bemusement over the Nats’ droll, “Yes, it’s true…This man has no dick” response.

My broader feeling about drone technology is still evolving and is colored primarily by my general distrust of centralized control and oversight.  On the one hand, I can see the immense advantages in a military or defense setting of having such devices spying out enemy positions or going in first to analyze bombs or booby-traps.  On the other, I am troubled by their potential applications in domestic, civilian scenarios.

I suppose my initial attitude with respect to the latter is this:  If people want, on a private basis, to survey their spring training (as in the above case) or their delivery routes or whatever else, well then fine.   However, if teh Gubmint wants to drone someone or something for its own purposes, I want to see that warrant and I want to see it well in advance.

More generally, I want a clear understanding that drones, purposed for whatever use, are fair targets.  If I see one of those things hovering outside the front door of Port Swiller Manor, whether in service of Amazon or the IRS,  I have every right to dash inside, grab a 12-guage, run back out and blast that thing out of the sky.  Period.   Pure assumption of the risk on the part of those who want to employ ‘em.

Heh.  Pre-21st Century:  “Git off’n my lawn!”

21st Century and beyond:  “Git out’n my airspace!”

latticeGood news, everyone!

According to the devil’s website home office, my order of lattice panels for stringing up the jasmine and clematis under teh porch is on its way and should be here within the next two weeks!

Yeah, buying garden supplies from Amazon.  Is there nothing they don’t sell?  Frankly, I don’t much understand the anti-monopolistic bed-wetting I read about their omnipresence.  Almost all of the books I buy from them are “remaindered” stock from local sellers hither and yon.  And when I buy other stuff like, oh, ten-packs of 4 x 8 yellow-pine lattice panels, their ultimate source is some local outfit (in this case, a lumber supplier down around Raleigh).   So Amazon is really more of an aggregator of products than anything else.  Why is this bad?

Aaaanyhoo,  here’s why I post about this.  I ask those of you gathered ’round the decanter:  What is the best method for nailing up lattice?  Should one drive in flat-headed nails in the nooks and crannies at the far corners of  the lathes, spread-eagling them as it were to the foundation, or should one drill directly into the lathes themselves?  I’m guessing the former, but I have no experience in these matters.

Any pro-tips wood, ah, be appreciated.

UPDATE:  Thankee to our commenters.  I was drifting in that direction and am glad of the confirmatory trend.   The panels are 8×4 and made of 3/4″ thick pine, so they’re already pretty hefty in and of themselves.  Toss some (hopefully) thick vine on them and they’re going to need the full-bore anchorage.  Pre-drill and screws it is.  (Also, how far along do you space the mounts?  I’m thinking that with sufficiently deep screws, every two feet would be ample.)

Now my bleg:  I’m really not much of a power tools guy and only have one old, dead Black & Decker electric drill with “so-called” rechargeable battery-packs which, in reality, are nothing of the sort, so I find myself in the market for a new drill.  As I say, I don’t do that much work with such tools, so I don’t think I’m looking for a lifetime relationship.  Also, I’ve no objection to extended electric cords, as opposed to batteries.   Any recommendations of a cheap and sturdy nature?  They’d be greatly appreciated.

Greetings, me fellow port swillers, and a happy St. Patty’s Day to ye!

Well, ol’ Ma Nature has delivered yet again, dumping (as reported by the NWS) something like 7 inches of snow in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor and, of course, bringing  Your Nation’s Capital to a screeching halt once more.  At the moment, I’m loitering around waiting for her to finish up so that I can go out and get cracking on the driveway, after which I intend to spend the afternoon gently dozing in front of the fire in well-earned sloth.

This is the first big late season storm we’ve had in ages, as I ought to know.  For one thing, the Eldest Gel turns sixteen this week (YIKES!) and  weather has never been an issue round about the time of her birthday before.  Also, I happen to remember the last mid-March blizzard (in 1993) because I was moving from one apartment to another that weekend in anticipation of my June wedding to Mrs. R.  When you have to haul heavy boxes around in the snow, it tends to stick with you, even if you have as porous and fluffy a memory as I do.

So anyway, here we are.

I was musing this morning on the bizarre transmogrification of the Feast of St. Patrick into the modern, secular “holiday” which seems to have no other function than to give  people an excuse to get blotto and to provide a forum for vicious public spats over whether Gay Pride groups should march in parades.   Of course, many of our major modern holidays are similar corruptions of Church originals, but at least with most of the rest of them there is still recognizable some faint image of their religious intent and meaning.   For the vast majority, St. Patty’s seems to me simply an excuse for self-indulgence, no matter how much green one is wearing.

Eh.

Then, of course, there’s the whole leprechaun biznay.   If you’re looking for an example of the real Irish attitude toward the Little People and pots of gold at the ends of rainbows, may I recommend to you a short story of Patrick O’Brian (yes, of Aubrey/Maturin fame) entitled “The Happy Despatch”?  It’s part of a collection called The Rendevous and Other Stories, all of which I would recommend and, without giving anything away, is really quite terrifying.

Well, it appears looking out the window that Ma is just about done, so I suppose it’s time to get dressed and get busy.

UPDATE:  Well, it was closer to 4 inches than 7 on Robbo’s driveway, so shoveling didn’t take that much time after all.

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