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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!

Well, Ol’ Robbo is once again playing semi-bachelor, as Mrs. R and the Youngest Gel departed Port Swiller Manor for Noo Yawk City this morning, along with the rest of the gel’s class at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method, to participate in the annual Model U.N. session held at their H.Q.  This sounds fun and exciting and all that, but as a matter of fact it is an extreme pain in the backside in terms of covering logistics (not to mention costs) and the Missus and I are both heartily glad that this will be the last year we have to deal with it.

Teh gel is representing Australia this time around.  I’ve been trying to teach her the proper inflection while saying, “G’day, mate” but she still comes out sounding Cockney. Oh, well.

Her issue this year seems to have something to do with banning child labor in the Third World.  In connection with this, we were discussing recently some proposal or other floating about in the real U.N. that had to do with amending its declaration of “universal rights”.  She couldn’t understand why so much of the World seemed to be in favor of this proposal while the United States, Great Britain and most of the Commonwealth nations oppose it.

“Ah,” I said, “Well, you see, that’s because our understanding of the relationship between the governing and the governed is (or at least used to be) based primarily on what are called Negative Rights.  That means rights that are not given by the government but endowed in us by God and with which the government is not allowed to interfere.  Our right to free speech and assembly, for instance.  Our right to practice our religion.  Our right to defend ourselves.  Our right to be secure in our property.  Our right to due process at law.  And so on.  The message there is that these are ours and the government cannot take them away from us or unduly limit them.  Most of the time, we ask nothing more of Uncle Sam than that he just bug off.”

“On the other hand, the sort of rights bandied about at the U.N. - like a right to education or housing or water or a job at a decent wage – are called Positive Rights.  That means they require somebody, usually a government, to do something positive on its citizens’ behalf.  Now, the Third World likes this sort of thing in part because a Positive Rights philosophy makes a people that much more beholden to its government’s largesse and thus much more subject to its power and control.  If Dear Leader “gives” you a house, Dear Leader is going to tell you exactly what you can and can’t do with it.   (And who to “vote” for if you know what’s good for you.)   Also, since you can’t just “get” tangible things like water, education, houses, wireless networks or wage-paying jobs from the Magical Land of the Rainbow Skittles-Shyting Unicorn, but have to, you know, actually buy them, they can hit up countries like the United States and the Commonwealth Nations for mucho moolah.  Of course, most of this is pocketed by the governments themselves and very, very rarely actually produces any benefit for their people.”

Thus ended the lesson.

I’m fairly sure only a little of it sank in, but I believe mustard seeds are very small, too.

UPDATE:  I forgot to mention a semantic problem baked into this debate.  “Negative” Rights sounds, well, negative.  On the other hand, “Positive” rights sounds, well, you know.  How do you suppose the average LIV-type is going to respond?   Somehow or other, we need to get back to the rhetoric of Magna Carta and Wicked King John if we, that is the Negative Rights side, hope to sway the general publick.

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!

Ol’ Robbo was casting an eye over his old school alumni calendar this afternoon for scheduling purposes when he noticed a curious thing.  According to the entry for Saturday, April 26, “Yom Hashanah” begins at sundown that day.

Now, I don’t pretend to be an expert on Jewish holidays, but my reaction on spotting this was an audible, “Say what? Where does that fall in relation to Rosh Kippur?”

I mentioned the thing to a little FB group to which I belong and one of my fellows suggested that the writers probably meant Yom HaShoah.

Now, as I say, I’m not up on Jewish holidays, so I looked up Yom HaShoah for some education, only to discover that a) it is the annual remembrance of the Holocaust (the existence of which I knew but not by its Hebrew name), and b) it actually starts at sundown on April 27 this year.  And never mind that Rosh Hashanah is actually an early fall holiday.

So, if I am reading this aright, not only did the calendar manage to mix up the celebration of the Jewish New Year with a day of utter grimness, it even got the date of the latter wrong.

Just how many levels of editorial review this thing managed to get through without notice, the world wonders.

I flipped through my pile of school calendars from prior years (yes, I keep old calendars – got a problem with that?) and found that there was no equivalent entry in any of them, so this appears to be a new innovation on the part of the dear old Alma Mater.

Given the weapons-grade tackiness of the attempt, easily exposed with about five minutes of research on the innertoobs, it might want to reconsider such innovations.

 

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?)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Mrs. Robbo and the younger gels flew down to Flahr’duh to visit grandparents this morning, leaving Self and the eldest to bach it for a few days here at Port Swiller Manor.  So eldest and I headed over to the local diner to grab some breakfast.

I recall that whenever I used to take one of the gels out to eat when they were younger, I would often intercept looks from people that in effect said, “Oh, must be his visiting weekend.  Mmmm, hmmm.  Wonder where he’s stashed the home-wrecker honey while seeing his kids, the sum’bitch.”

For some reason, I didn’t get that vibe this morning.  Is there less of a psychological instinct to pigeonhole ol’ Dad when he’s out with an older kid?  Have we become that much more permissive in the last ten years that nobody gives a damn anymore?  Is it possible some people might have thought the gel was the home-wrecker honey?  I don’t know.

Anyhoo, we talked mostly about politicks and current events, in which the gel is starting to take more and more interest.  (She’ll be able to vote in the next Presidential, which is a scary thought.)  Suffice to say, I don’t think the gel is going to join the Army of Julias any time soon.  Her summary comment was, “Gee, Dad, I wish I had grown up in the 80′s like you.”

Yeah, so do I.

UPDATE:  Despite the fact that there’s still talk of snow next Tuesday, it’s a very nice day here today and I was able to get out and continue with some of my early-early-spring cleanup, this time pruning the climbing rose by the front door.   Over the years, the thing has got to be very tall, now reaching up two stories and overtopping the gutters.  I really ought to whack it back by about a third or so but decided to let it go one more season, just lopping off the visibly dead canes (of which there were surprisingly few).

This rose, which is on a southwest-facing wall, always does spectacularly well in the spring, erupting in mounds and mounds of dark red flowers.  Alas, by mid-summah, it almost always gets sulky because of the heat and starts shedding leaves.  By Halloween, it invariably provokes snarky comments from the gels about haunted house decorations.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Trouble Last evening, ol’ Robbo watched a movie which, if you’re looking for something a bit off the beaten path, you might consider tossing into your Netflix queue, “Trouble Along The Way” (1953).  The movie stars John Wayne (yes, the Dook) as Steve Williams, a once-great-but-now-down-on-his-luck college football coach hired by Father Burke (played nicely by Charles Coburn), head of a small and failing Catholic college, who gets the idea that if he can field a good football team, he might generate some doubloons and save dear old St. Anthony’s  from being kiboshed by the Diocese.   (In a way, then, this flick is somewhat akin to both “Horsefeathers” and “The Blues Brothers”.  Good company, that.)   Because he sincerely wants the Padre’s scheme to succeed, Steve uses every recruiting trick he can think of – legal and illegal – to turn St. Anthony’s squad into world-beaters.  (Chuck Connors is one of Steve’s coaching minions.)  Trouble ensues.

Steve lives with his 11-year old daughter/sidekick Carol (Sherry Jackson), only issue of Steve and his ex-wife Anne (Marie Windsor) on whom Steve had walked out five years previously after leaving an elite game early only to catch her hootchie-cooching in his bower with some high-end toff.    As the film opens, Anne has just unleashed the long arm of the law on Steve in the person of Alice Singleton (Donna Reed), a Probation Court investigator determined to prise Carol out of Steve’s loving arms because, on first impression, she thinks Steve is a bum and  a bad influence.   More trouble ensues.

While not the greatest movie ever made, “TATW” is really not bad.  A lot of people make the mistake of dismissing the Dook as a real “actor” because a) of his politics, and b) they’ve only caught snippets of him costumed either as a cowboy or a soldier.  Fact of the matter is, his range was a lot greater and more subtle than such people might imagine, and here he really had the opportunity to show a side that you won’t normally see in the standard western or war flick.  He used it, too.  His interactions with little Carol were especially endearing and his approach to Father Burke and the other priests was both reverent and dignified, while at the same time preserving a certain worldly knowingness.

I may say, by the bye  that, overall, the film is very respectful of HMC and whoever wrote it knew exactly what he was about in terms of the Mass, Church politicks and the bailing-wire-and-bubble-gum plight of so many Church -affiliated places of learning.  I couldn’t help wondering if making this film had anything at all to do with the Dook’s later conversion to Catholicism.  Why not?  Alec Guinness has said that his swimming of the Tiber was influenced, at least in part, by the work he did filming Father Brown.

Anyhoo, I say not the greatest because this film definitely has its weaknesses.  The character development is rather uneven. (Anne is such a two-dimensional villainess that you practically need a razor blade to scrape her character off the screen.)  The plot gets somewhat wobbly here and there.  (Why Steve chucks big-time college ball because of Anne’s infidelity in the first place escaped me.)  And Donna Reed was….well, a disappointment.  Don’t get me wrong – Ol’ Robbo has always been a fan of The Donna.  Here, though, she starts out as a clueless and bloodless bureaucratic busybody (I, ah, am familiar with the type (heh)) but, to me, never really warms up under the Dook’s sunny smile the way I think she might have done.  I was left wondering what Steve really could have seen in her, apart from a nice pair of legs.

Eh, not a deal-breaker, but this isn’t exactly a film I’d want to watch over and over again.  Still, as I say, worth a dekko.

trouble 2One other thing about Sherry Williams, who played Carol.  She was quite endearing here, both in her loving joshing of Steve and in her wretched miserableness at being forced to miss St. Anthony’s opener at the Polo Grounds and instead being dragged off to Evil Anne’s apartment for some high-end bacchanal.   11 y.o. herself at the time, Williams reminded me rayther of my own youngest gel in both spunk and looks.  Although my own gel has almost dramatically larger eyes and a somewhat leaner face, there is definitely a certain resemblance. ===>

Looking Williams up on IMDB, I found that this role was one of the first of many over the course of her career.  She apparently specialized mostly in “guest” appearances on various tee-vee series and seems to have hit all the major ones from the 50′s through the early 80′s, including “The Rifleman”. “Maverick”, “The Twilight Zone”, “Gunsmoke”, “Perry Mason”, “Gomer Pyle”, “My Three Sons”, “Batman”, “The Wild, Wild West”,  “The Rockford Files”, “Starsky and Hutch”, “Barnaby Jones”, “The Incredible Hulk”, “Alice”, “Charlie’s Angels” and “CHiPs”.  In other words, barring “The Love Boat”, “The A-Team” and “The Dukes of Hazzard”, damn near every series that formed ol’ Robbo’s misspent yoot.

"You call THAT the 'Captain's Log'?"

“You call THAT the ‘Captain’s Log’?”

Oh, I almost forgot, she also had a (to me, at any rate) very memorable gig as one of the myriad space babes in “Star Trek: TOS”.

Yippee-ki-yay.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo hopes that he will be able to get this post up but fears that Ma Nature may put the kybosh on it.¹  Even though it was balmy enough for softball practice a mere 24 hours ago, at the moment the wind is howling something fierce, the temperature is plummeting and already the power to Port Swiller Manor has flickered off and on a couple times.  But that’s the Great Commonwealth of Virginny in March for you, a true psychopath, meteorologically-speaking.

Proscribed.  Sorry, old girl.

Proscribed. Sorry, old girl.

Anyhoo, the latest issue of the alumni magazine from the People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown, CT arrived in the Port Swiller Manor mailbox t’other day.  Idly flipping through it, and also mindful of the launch this week of a new movement to ban the use of the word “bossy” when speaking of girls (said to have been masterminded by friends of She Who Must Not Be Named in anticipation of a presidential run in ’16, although I can’t imagine why), a sobering thought again occurred to me.

You see, the ol’ rag is full of the same sort of Progressivist twaddle I dealt with on campus thirty-odd years ago: the lockstep and jackbooted faux “diversity”, the Orwellian interpretation of “tolerance”, the abandonment of common sense and practical experience regarding human nature, the loathing of Western Civilization,  the willful ignorance of real history in favor of customized personal constructs, the faculty-lounge Marxism.

Once I got over my initial shock in encountering all of this as a freshman (Ed. – That’s freshperson, hater),   I actually didn’t mind it so much.  Constantly arguing against it was kinda fun and actually made me a much better debater because it forced me to dig deeper into the roots of my own beliefs.  Plus, returning to the world of sanity during holidays and sunmahs, I told myself that it was all just a load of idjit college kid bullshite that my fellow students would jettison once they had to go out in the Real World and actually work for a living.

Now, however, it seems I mislead myself.   What was then just the bloviations of a bunch of spoiled-brat campus radicals has somehow become the ethos of the land.   Hence the above-referenced exercise in linguistic coercion.   They used to say that a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality.  I still believe this to be by and large correct.  However, through a series of historickal accidents too complicated to suss out here, the present batch of ex-campus rads holding the levers of power have been shielded so far from the said enlightening mugging.  Unfortunately, this means that the Hurt, when it comes (and it WILL come – Oh, Yes, it will), is going to be all that much more vengeful for having been denied for so long.  And I’m afraid we’re all going to suffer for it.

As for the “bossy” thing itself?  Pffft.   The argument of the campaign, from what little attention I’ve spared it, seems to be that to call a female person “bossy” is to attack her leadership qualities, unfairly smearing them with such a pejorative adjective in an attempt to push her back toward barefoot n’ pregnant status.

In the first place, I can tell you from firsthand experience and observation that there’s a world of difference between a “bossy” woman and a woman who actually leads, and that to conflate the two is a willfully false exercise designed to do nothing more than provide politically-correct shielding for a certain screeching harridan who still must not be named.    (And to the argument that nobody ever says, “John is a really bossy vice-president,” I would answer, “True: what we say is, “John is a real a-hole.”)**

In the second place, couching this thing as some kind of brave stance against the “War on Girlzz” (as the campaign photos seem to suggest) is a piece of exploitative cynicism beneath contempt, and as the father of three girls myself, whose lives I am trying desperately to keep from being politicized and therefore ruined, I spit on it.

Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to go get a glass of milk.

¹Of course, if you’re actually reading this, then I suppose my fears will have been groundless.

**UPDATE:  I just remembered the exchange from that most excellent movie, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, that was floating around at the back of my mind as I typed this:

Bill:  You ditched Napoleon?  Deacon, do you realized you’ve stranded one of history’s greatest leaders?

Deacon:  He was a dick!

So there you go.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo had one of his patented bizarro dreams last evening, doubtless from a combination of giving up the grape for Lent, thinking about obscure Augustine history references (see below) and being in the midst of reading Chesterton’s Manalive when he dozed off.

LandisAnyhoo, I found myself at a lavish costume party held in some great ball room.  There was no particular theme that I remember, but rather a large assortment of historickal figures.  I, myself, was made up as Julius Caesar and wore an enormously elaborate tunic and toga.  I especially remember how vivid the red and gold were.

As I say, there was no particular theme to the party.  Nonetheless, I found myself trying to chat up a young lady dressed as a Roman matron.  (I’m inclined to think she was a very young Jessie Royce Landis (which see) because I happened to watch “To Catch A Thief” not long ago and have always liked her style of lazy humor.)  Every time I got going, however, some other fellah in Roman attire would try to horn in on us.  These weren’t just random people, either, but celebs of the old school.  I distinctly recall both Peter O’Toole and Charles Laughton among my rivals.

Somehow or other, it got to the point where we decided that the question of who was going to get the girl would be put to the vote of the Roman Senate.   (By this point, the theme obviously had declared itself.)  I found myself on the edge of a stage, listening to one of the other suitors arguing his claim and making a hash of it.  Remembering Who I Was and determining that I could do a much better job than that, when my turn was called I strode out to center stage and, in a surprisingly clear and deep voice, made the following speech (as near as I can remember):

“Senators of Rome!  I am a plain man and therefore will speak plainly to you!  I deserve the girl above all these others here!  Who among them has brought to Rome so much wealth and honor as have I?  Who has been so successful in foreign wars?  Who has ensured such domestic peace?  None of them, I say!  Therefore, as reward to me and as encouragement to others to emulate my efforts,  give her to me!”

And then, as they say, I woke up.  Dunno who won the vote.

After pausing here to let the feminist heads finish up exploding (All done?  Good.), I will simply say I have no idea what any of this means.  ‘Twas a good dream, though.

UPDATE:  Google reminds me that yesterday was the “International Day of the Woman”, whatever that may be.  Derp!

Ol’ Robbo had not seen this video before, I think.  It made me laugh and laugh:

Way, waaaaaay back in the fierce young days of the Llamas, when every blog pronouncement seemed worth fighting about, I recall getting into a kerfluffle with some camelidophiles over my opinion that German is an ugly language, full of gutturals, rocky with consonants and ridiculous in some of its excessive compounding.  I stated something to the effect that it reminded me of nothing but dark fir woods; cold, dismal swamps; and howling hordes of barbarians swarming out to fall on Varus and his Legions in the Teutoburg Forest and cut them to ribbons.

I still feel that way, but here’s a defense by a native-speaker, which I include out of fairness since it was from this article that I lifted the video.  Enjoy!

A glass of wine with Arts & Letters Daily.

UPDATE:  After pondering whilst shoveling off the patio, it occurs to me that maybe I have seen this video before.  Still funny.  Also, I’m willing to bet all of those so-called Europeans are actually ‘Muricans.  If that Johnny is a genuine Brit, then so am I.

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