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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!

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!

liebster2Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As fellow parents are no doubt well aware, the last weeks of May and the first weeks of June are times of seemingly endless brouhaha.  Recently ol’ Robbo has found himself attending all kinds of end-of-school-year activities, including awards ceremonies, picnics, talent shows and the like.  Plus, teh Middle Gel was confirmed into TEC on Sunday.  With all this going on, opportunities and energy for any kind of substantive posting have been correspondingly curtailed.

In teh midst of all these alarums and excursions, ol’ Robbo discovered that he had been nominated by long time friend of the decanter  Zoopraxiscopean Don for the highly coveted Liebster Award this year.  A glass of wine with you, sir!  And subsequently, during the time this post has half-finishedly hung fire, I also seem to have got tapped by our Maximum Leader.   A glass of wine with you, sir!  (And note to self: Extra aspirin tablet before bed, since we still have work in the morning.)

Anyhoo, ol’ Robbo’s been blogging for nearly eleven years now altogether and it seems to me that I haven’t seen a meme like this one floating around the ‘toobs for some time now.  Takes me back to the Earlies, it does, when every new meme was fresh red meat.  (Indeed, I’ve a vague recollection that we might have done this one back at Llama Central.)

So, obligatory “You love me! You really love me!” acceptance speech aside, here we go.  First off, the instructions:

The Quasi-Official Rules of the Liebster Award

If you have been nominated for The Liebster Award AND YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT, write a blog post about the Liebster award in which you:
1. thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.
2. display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)
3. answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.
4. provide 11 random facts about yourself.
5. nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)

6. create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.

7. list these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:

8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)

*****

PART THE FIRST, QUESTIONS TO ME:

Eleven questions.  Don was here first, but the wise minion does not provoke our Maximum Leader to acts of villainous retribution via needless snubs.  Therefore, I’ll take six of Don’s questions and five of Maxy’s:

1.     Cameras on every single portable electronic device. Blessing or bane?  Pfft.  Portable electronic devices are a bane themselves.  I love disconcerting people by sitting in quiet, self-contained contemplation in, say, an airport gate while they furiously fumble with their i-Whatevahs.

2. Who should direct the movie version [of your biography]?  Terry Gilliam.  I’m more Walter Mitty than Baron Munchausen, but his knack for cinematic dancing back and forth between reality and fantasy seems to match my thought patterns better than anyone else I can think of off hand, not that I pay any real attention to cinematic directors.

3. Who should do the musical score for the movie?  Hrrrrmmm…..I would prefer a compilation of classickal works, involving at least one chase scene set to one of the more intense minor-key concertos by Vivaldi.

4. Please tell a favorite joke (keep it tasteful, thank you).  Well, I heard a good one recently:  It seems that a father up ta’ rural Maine  questioned his son one morning about whether the son had anything to do with the family out-house having been tipped over the night before.  The son, after a moment’s hesitation, decided to come clean and admit that he had been the perpetrator.  The father then proceeded to chastise the son.  When he was done, the son said, “But Dad, when George Washington’s father asked if George had been the one to cut down the cherry tree and George had told the truth, HE wasn’t punished.”  “Maybe,” replied the father, “But I doubt his father was sitting in the cherry tree at the time George cut it down.”

5.  Assume that everyone has an ability that they could call their “superpower” what would yours be?  The ability not to draw attention to myself.  You may call it “Stealth” if you like.  

6. What is the earliest memory you have?  Playing with some toy army trucks.  This would have been in Rochester NY when I was no more than 3 y.o.  I also have a very vague memory of being in a car crossing a long bridge.  This would have been when we crossed the Mississippi at St. Louis on our way from Rochester to set up in South Texas when I was about 3 1/2.

7. Do you have a battle song, i.e., a tune that you hum, sing or stomp your feet to while on the way to a difficult day at work or an unpleasant appointment?  Well, nothing in particular for the office itself.  However, I still use the Star Wars scene of the Millennium Falcon’s escape from Mos Eisley for airplane takeoffs.  Indeed, when the pilot first hits the throttle and we start rolling, I always mutter to myself in a clipped British accent, “Oh, dear.  I’d forgotten how much I hate space travel!”

8. What fictional character do you particularly identify with?  Not one in particular, but I love Evelyn Waugh’s stable of anti-heroes:  Paul Pennyfeather, poor old Tony Last, William Boot and Guy Crouchback.  All of them are decent, traditionally-minded men caught up in the absurd and appalling whirligig of the Modern World, tossed about and, with the exception of Last, eventually set back down on their feet, somewhat dizzy but still intact.  (Please note that Basil Seal, Charles Ryder and Dennis Barlow are not included in this group.)

9. Tell me about one deeply held belief of yours that has evolved or changed over time.  Well, regular friends of the decanter will already know that this is a gimme and involves ol’ Robbo’s swimming of the Tiber back in ’08.  Indeed, that was probably the principle reason I set up this blog in the first place.  

10. What neglected writer, composer or performer deserves rediscovery?  Well, I’ll go with a painter:  N.C. Wyeth.  Yes, he was really an “illustrator” in the same sense that Norman Rockwell was, and yes, the sorts of stories he illustrated – which centered around subjects like pirates and swashbucklers, Indians and frontiersmen – are considered nekulturny under the current ethos.  But I think his use of color and shadow and his sense of dramatic groupings and action were superb.

11.  Your favorite word? “Defenestration”, of course.  In actual practice, we could use a bit more of it these days, don’t you think?

PART THE SECOND, TEN RANDOM FACTS ABOUT OL’ ROBBO:

1.  I am punctual to the point of obsession and absolutely cannot stand being late for anything.  On the other hand, I am the titular head of a household of wimminz to whom this is a completely alien concept.

2.  We had a pet raccoon when I was a boy, an orphaned cub (or is it pup?) who we eventually had to let go when he grew up and got too wild and rough.  I was about eight at the time.  A year or two later, I stumbled across Sterling North’s classic novel of boyhood, “Rascal”.  It was the story of exactly the same scenario:  Boy finds cub.  Boy raises cub.  Boy has to release cub because Call of the Wild.  I used to read that book over and over and the ending made me tear up every single time.

3.  I dislike bivalves (clams, oysters, etc.) but like crustaceans (lobster, shrimp, crab).

4.   I played cello in elementary school and took private lessons for a year or so afterwards but eventually dropped it because I had got as far as I could as a soloist and was too afraid to join the middle school orchestra out of shyness.    Now the youngest is going to start middle school this fall….learning cello for her school orchestra.

5.   The farthest west I’ve been is Dillingham, Alaska, on Bristol Bay.  (It’s also the only place at which I’ve ever landed in a commercial jet on a gravel strip.)  The farthest north I’ve been is Anchorage.  The farthest south is Brownsville, Texas.  The farthest east is Richborough Castle (ancient Roman fortification) in Sandwich, England.

6.   When I was a kid, my brother and I used to chase armadillos in the Texas Hill Country.  Once they got into their burrows, their tails always stayed within hand’s reach but it was no good trying to pull them out because they had very strong claws that dug tenaciously into the ground and proved too strong an anchor.

7.   I once unwittingly insulted Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, Jr., by ranting at length to a law school classmate about fence-sitter, swing-vote justices without realizing that Powell was standing directly behind me.  (Powell was an alum of my law school and frequently visited for guest lectures and the like.)  On the other hand, I have more than once almost been run down in the parking lot of my church by Justice Antonine Scalia (who is a member of my parish and often attends the Tridentine Mass at which I am a regular).

8.   Bill Cosby was my college commencement speaker.  Tom Wolfe was my law school commencement speaker.  Both of them were excellent.

9.  I have a talent for picking up local accents and, without consciously trying, adapting to them.  Although I spent most of my misspent yoot in South Texas and arrived at college in Connecticut with a subtle but noticeable twang, by the end of my senior year somebody once said to me, “Oh! I always assumed you were from Boston.”

10.  I have no sweet-tooth whatsoever.   Candy, donuts, cake, anything sugary – their siren song falls on deaf ears.  Indeed, I find them quite repulsive.  On the other hand, salt is practically a food group to me.

11.   I once made it from the American Legion Bridge over the Potomac (on the Dee Cee Beltway) to the end of teh Mass Pike in Boston in seven and a half hours.   The Need for Speed, baybee!

12.  BONUS!  I hate Apple and its freakin’ iMac platform.  I could have had this post done in 1/8th the time it’s taking me to drag and click and copy and paste and whatnot.  And  every time I twitch the mouse the wrong way, the screen goes all a-hooey and I have no idea how to get it back to where it was.  How the hell am I supposed to quaff from the true, the blushful Hippocrene when goddam Apple keeps slipping me a dribble glass?  GRRRRRRRR……..

PART THE THIRD, PASSING THE TORCH:

M’kay.  First, a selection of victims (in which I pass up all those friends of the decanter who appear to have been tapped already by someone else):

Diane, the Quilting Babe

Fiddle-Dee-Dee (Release the Vic!)

The Lovely and Talented Sarah of Life At Full Volume 

Mr. Nightfly – Because I can guarantee hockey will be involved.

Mr. Obscurorama – because we’ve traded memes back in the day.  And, no doubt, will do so again.

Second, a list of very random questions for them.  Are you ready?  Here we go:

1.  Let’s play Desert Island Disks.  Singles or albums.  Pick your five and explain.

2.  Who shot first?  (Understand that the wrong answer here will doom you straight to the appropriate circle of hell.)

3.  In baseball, what is your opinion of the DH rule and the introduction this year of the replay review challenge rule?  (See above.)

4.  When the light turns green and the fellah sitting in front of you obviously fails to notice it, how do you remind him?  (Please include horn technique, appropriately-censored vocabulary and body language.)

5.  Are you better off than you were six years ago?

6.  Name a historically significant point in your life and tell us how it affected you personally.  (I ask this because, owing to an assignment in her history class in which teh eldest gel has been asked to broach the same question to some member of her family, I learned that Mrs. R’s grandmother (who is still with us and is visiting this weekend) was so upset by the news of the death of FDR that she went into labor several weeks prematurely and bore Robbo’s MIL the next day.  I reckon teh gel is going to get some extra points for that  story.)

7.  Brush with Greatness.  Go.

8.  Cats or dogs and why?  (See Nos. 2 and 3 above re incorrect responses.)

9.  If you had to pick an historickal epoch in Western History with which you have the most sympathy, which would you choose?  Why?  If you don’t identify with any given period, why not?

10.  Charcoal or gas?   Why?  (See Nos. 2, 3 and 7 above.)

11.  How has the experience of blogging influenced you over the course of your time dabbling in the innertoobs.  Best positive?  Worst negative?  How has your approach/attitude towards blogging changed as you’ve gained experience and as your personal circumstances have changed.  Tell us about the crossing of the streams between your bloggy life and your real-world existence.  (Okay, I’m cramming a bunch of questions into one, but they’re all interrelated.)

 

 

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sorry for the lack of posts over the past day or two.  Ol’ Robbo got tagged for one of those old-fashioned bloggy meme thingies and it’s taking me much longer to hammer out a response than I imagined it would.  Sooner or later, I’ll get the thing up.

In the meantime, word comes to me that with the recent arrival at Port Swiller Manor of Clash of the Titans and Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith (yes, I denounce myself), ol’ Robbo’s Netflix queue is out of ammo.   Any suggestions for  my reloads?

Regular friends of the decanter have some idea of what floats Robbo’s’ boat.  Newbies are invited to fire blind.

Go.  And thankee.

UPDATE:  Again, thankee for your responses!  This is one of the best things about blogging and commenting – I’d never heard of some of these suggestions and forgot about others.  Well, here is ol’ Robbo’s Netflix queue for the foreseeable future:

Once Upon A Time In The West – Okay, this was one of my own ideas.  Henry Fonda as a stone killer is truly horrifying.

Coriolanus – I’ve never read this play of the Bard’s although I know its general outline.  I like Beethoven’s overture of the same name.

Joss Whedon’s version of Much Ado About Nothing – I actually got this once before but sent it back unwatched.  Can’t remember why.  I’ve mentioned here before that Whedon and I were classmates in college, haven’t I?

Grand Budapest Hotel – Only available for saving at this point.  Between the Wars crossroads.

The World’s End – Pub crawl of epic proportions.  Did I ever mention that the only time I was thrown out of a bar was in London in 1988?

Shaun of the Dead - D’you know, I’ve never seen this but always meant to.  Loser vs. Zombies, isn’t it?

The Guns of Navarone – Classic WWII flick, which of course I’ve seen before.  I also tossed in Force Ten from Navarone.   Y’all know that the senior Nazi officer in that film who goes up against Harrison Ford is the same actor – playing another Nazi baddie – who confronts him in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, right?

Tampopo – “Noodle” Western.  Heh.

Persepolis –  How ya gonna’ keep them in a hijab after they’ve seen gay Paree?

Hope and Glory - London in the Blitz from a boy’s perspective.  Always meant to see this.

Winged Migration – Flappy Birds meet Marlin Perkins.

The Gods Must Be Crazy – This one I saw once, albeit about thirty years ago.  At the time I thought it okay but couldn’t understand why everyone raved about it.  It’s currently available only as a “save” at Netflix.  Given the fashionable sensibilities, I’m surprised it hasn’t been disappeared.

Also off my own bat, I tossed in the following.  I share them with you in return for your suggestions:

Danger UXB – If you haven’t seen this 1979 series starring Anthony Andrews as an officer of the Royal Engineers tasked with disarming unexploded bombs during the Blitz, you’re missing a real treat.

Brideshead Revisited – The 1981 series, again with Andrews and with Jeremy Irons.  Because I just reread the novel and because the last time I saw the series was when Mawsterpiece Theatre aired it in the mid-80’s, a time when I had no frame of reference against which to judge it.

Band of Brothers – Why I don’t just go ahead and buy this set, I really don’t know.  Too bad it’s recent Pacific Theater counterpart was such a dud.

300 – Spar-TAAAAANS!!!!!

Enemy At The Gates – Saving Private Ivan.

Also, I couldn’t find it but what is the name of that Restoration period piece that (I think) features Sam Neill as Charles II and also features a creepy fake statue guy who haunts the grounds of a country house?  Or am I conflating two films?

Finally, I chose not to accept two of your suggestions:

Gallipoli – All the metrics say I should like this film, but it really doesn’t hold me.  Somehow, the battle scenes seemed a little too made-for-teevee for me.

Sherlock – No.  Sorry, no.  Write your own damned story with your own damned characters and don’t go poaching on teh classics.  Besides, it was the first thing Netflix tried to push on me when I dialed in this evening and that makes me just a bit uncomfortable.  (Glances up to make sure tape still covers iMac camera lenz thingie.)

Since I typically watch three or four of my beloved Nats’ games per week during the summah, I’m guessing this list will last me well until about Halloween.

 

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Regular friends of teh decanter will get the title, knowing ol’ Robbo’s opinion that Tuesday is the emptiest day of all.  With that, how about a few, well, empty thoughts?

♦   Ol’ Robbo teh English major is something of a hide-bound reactionary traditionalist when it comes to matters of language and grammar, but even I must acknowledge the text-driven power of the modern acronym to encapsulate profound meaning in minimal expression.  As an example, consider the following:  SOTU? STFU!

No, I did not watch tonight’s State of the Union address.  Nonetheless, I think I can condense however many minutes of verbiage it lasted into two words:  We’re humped.

♦   This past Sunday happened to be Robbo’s 49th birthday.  This one came and went with very, very little fanfare or festivity, in part because I’ve ceased to care that much and in part because I was so busy with church  (early Mass for me, followed by shepherding teh Middle Gel down the Cathedral for both the 11:30 eucharist and 4:00 evensong), that by the time I got home, all I wanted was a glass of wine and some solitude.

♦  Speaking of gels, teh eldest had her key snap in the garage door at Port Swiller Manor this afternoon as she came home from school and tried to get in out of teh 18° cold.  Not panicking, she called Mrs. R at work and went up on to the porch to grab a blanket from one of the chairs to keep herself warm.  Mrs. R arranged for a neighbor to rescue said eldest.  I am very proud that she did not panic.

Obviously, we’re going to need a back-up entry method.  Any hackers out there?  Don’t look under teh garden gnome!

Nonetheless, if she tries to pull a “Oh, Father! I’ve caught a chill and can’t go to school today” tomorrow as a result: I will do such things,–
What they are, yet I know not: but they shall be
The terrors of the earth!

♦   Ab über-random thought:  I much prefer the ’86 re-recording of “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” by The Police to the original.  I think the broody, nightmarish quality of the latter version to be much more effective.

♦  Oops.  I just finished posting a longish random tidbit trying to link Brother Anastase Douay, the only surviving witness of the murder by some of his own men of René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle in 1687 in East Texas, with the great Douay-Rheims translation of the Bible.   (We’ve reached the depth of post where, on teh Mac, I can’t figure out how to linky.  If you are interested, I suggest google.)  Alas, there seems to be no direct connection.  Cliff Clavins of the world unite in weepage.

♦   Those friends of teh decanter who spotted teh quote from King Lear just above (Act 2, Scene IV) may be interested to know that ol’ Robbo saw Anthony Hopkins offer up those lines on teh stage in London in 1987.  It’s been a great many years now, but I can still say with confidence:  Tony completely blew it.   I dunno whether it was his idea or his director’s, but his interpretation was an utter fail.

Well, on that note, I suppose I will pack it in so that I can get myself reading for Hump Day.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Regular friends of the decanter will know that ol’ Robbo is something of a Luddite when it comes to all these newfangled electronic gadgets being foisted on the market.  For example, I have often (perhaps too often) opined to Mrs. R that her GPS thingy, to which she is utterly beholden to get from Point A to Point B,  is actually controlled by Skynet and that when Judgement Day comes, Skynet will steer her straight into an ambush and serves her right.   She can’t say that she wasn’t warned.

However, I must admit my own personal delight with Google Maps, both in its overhead capacity and in its street-view function.   I think I have posted often enough here  about geography to explain the former.  The latter has had some real value in my job, since I often must travel to cities and towns unknown to me and scoping them out ahead of time has saved me a lot of bother.

Anyhoo, the point of this post is to draw attention to a particular feature of the street-view function.  I had read (and checked out) an article a few months back describing how said function had been expanded to include not just highways and byways, but also  panoramic views from the summits of some select mountains.   I forget which ones they were, but at the time I thought the ones I visited were, well, o-kay, but not all that special.

This week, however, I found myself checking out Google Maps’ street-view of Mt. Fuji.  I had not known this, but there’s a trail all the way round the lip of the crater, and some enterprising Google employee had hiked all the way up from the base and around said trail.

I have seen some impressive views before.  The Google street-map view of Pike’s Peak is pretty impressive.  Similarly the various views available when one wanders around the Italian and Austrian Alps.  But this one takes the cake.  Mt. Fuji is 12K-plus feet in altitude and there’s nothing immediately around it.  The view is both breath-taking and, if you have a fear of heights like me, palm-sweat inducing.

(Yes, sitting at my computer in the basement of Port Swiller Manor, staring at a computer screen, I can still get scared looking at images depicting great height.  That’s how much of an acrophobe I am.)

Anyhoo, if you haven’t done so, I heartily recommend that you check this thing out.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I thought I would stir things up a bit here by doing a little Monday randomness, instead of saving it for Friday.  You know, because I’m such a wild and crazy guy.  (And yes, I know the timestamp says it’s already October 29, but the thing is set on Greenwich Mean Time and I’m too lazy and timid to go messing about with it.)

♦    Today was the first time this year that I got into my place of employment before dawn and didn’t leave until after sunset.  This pattern will continue for the next week or two until daylight savings time sets in.  Because I very often don’t leave my building during the day even for lunch, and therefore don’t see the sun directly, I have taken to calling this the Time of the Mole People.

♦     I forget why DST kicks in late this year except that it has something to do with politicks.  Which means it has virtually nothing to do with plain common sense.

♦     Speaking of politicks, during the course of a ramble about something or other last Sunday, the Rev at Robbo’s Former Episcopal Church let fall a comment about “inclusiveness” being one of the core values of the Founding Fathers.  A warm and fuzzy sentiment to many of the RFEC congregation, no doubt, but actually completely at odds with the actual spirit of the Founders, who were in fact devoted to the concept that gubmint (because this is all about gubmint manipulation of teh populace) should just leave people the hell alone to get on as they see fit.  My friends, this is an example of why a solid education and eternal vigilance are so very necessary.

♦   I haven’t declared a World Series favorite here yet.  Allow me to correct this:  I am going with the St. Louis Cardinals.   Et cur? you may ask, especially after the Cards did down Robbo’s beloved Nats in the playoffs last year?  Simple.  Bahston fans do not wear success very well.  Back in the day when the Sawx and the Pats were horrid, I admired the way in which their supporters stuck with them no matter how heavy the emotional and psychological toll.  But now that the teams have become such winners? Well, these same fans have turned into the most arrogant bunch of jerks on the continent.  Massholes, indeed.

♦  Having said that, I can’t say that I am watching teh games very closely.   I know that there is a school of thought that enjoys the champeen struggle for its own sake, but I’m not of it: If I don’t have a horse in the race, I’m not all that much interested.  Indeed, although I still know that the ‘Fins won the ’72 and ’73 Super Bowls because I was such a fan in those days, for the life of me I simply cannot remember who won it last year.   And I don’t think I could tell you any Series winners off the top of my head.   First time the Nats pull it off- that I’ll remember.  (I say nothing about pro basketball because I hold the sport in contempt.  As for hockey, there was none in the South Texas of my misspent yoot, so I never acquired an interest during my formative years.)

♦  And finally, t’other night I was watching Executive Decision.  This is one of those movies that, when I’m channel-surfing and stumble across it, I almost automatically settle back to watch.  (Okay, confess:  You lot have your own favorites and do the same.  Confess, I say.  Confess!)  Anyhoo, it was being shown as  part of the series on whatever that military network is that features Lou Diamond Phillips interviewing guests between sections of the film.  His guest here was Tom Ridge (first Sec of Homeland Security), and there was a lot of jawing about how we view this movie (which was made during the false peace of the mid-90’s) in the aftermath of 9/11 and the current Global War on Terror.    I mention this only because at one point, in a discussion of post-9/11 terror attacks, Ridge actually mentioned the Fort Hood massacre.   “Oh, my stars,” I thought.  “Didn’t Ridge get the memo?  The Fort Hood shooter was a troubled man with psychiatric issues, not a terrorist for the Religion of Peace.  And besides, gun control so shut up!”  Honestly, keep up guys!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, as the title implies, ol’ Robbo took the weed-whacker to Da Beard this morning.  I didn’t do so because it looked bad or because Mrs. R made me.  (Indeed, when I finally got her to comment, she actually gave it her  qualified approval.)  In the end I suppose I decided that I just wasn’t really that guy looking back at me in the mirror.  Regular friends of the decanter will be well aware of Robbo’s aversion to change and his utter lack of interest in novelty for its own sake.   Some people might be apt to label this “boring”.  I prefer the term “constant”.

Anyhoo, I got a few compliments and had a bit o’ fun, but it was time to come home.

Speaking of change, our Maximum Leader, commenting t’other day on the upcoming statewide elections here in the Great Commonwealth of Virginny, noted his general dissatisfaction with all the candidates on offer this time around.   I must say that I’m getting that same vibe from many, many people including Mrs. R, who I always turn to as my non-politickal weathervane.   I won’t go into endorsements here except to remark that, as I’m something more of a cultchah warrior than Maxy, the choices are easier for me.   I will say that there is at least one state-wide candidate who, in a healthy republic, wouldn’t even be on the ballot but instead would be in jail.

Also speaking of change, may I remark here how much I hate this bloody Apple i-Whateveritis on which I am currently typing, particularly this goddam wireless mouse?  In its apparent quest to anticipate what I want it to do, it’s forever suddenly magnifying the page or flipping it into the trash if I even go so far as to sneeze at the wrong moment.  Grrrrr…..

Speaking of manipulative technology, the devil’s website got me again yesterday.  On a Columbus Day tip from the Puppy-blender, I had sauntered over to pick up Samuel Eliot Morrisson’s Admiral of the Ocean Sea:  A Life of Christopher Columbus.   While on the page, I heard a small voice whisper, “Psst! Hey! Look down a little….You know you can get a copy of Columbus’s own logs and dispatches from his voyages while you’re at it, don’t you?  You know you want to, right?  It’s sooooo easy.  Go ahead!”

My friends, there are some temptations which I am able to avoid quite easily.  There are others to which I fall equally easily.   (And lest you think this particular one fairly petty, let me assure you that reading books of this sort will be more than enough justification to send me to the reeducation camps, if not the wall, in the upcoming purges.)

One temptation that I wrestle with more or less constantly is to try living the gels’ lives for them.  This is a trap the Old Gentleman fell into in my own misspent yoot, and one that I swore scrupulously to avoid when it became my turn to deal with teenagers.  My friends, it’s a whole heck of a lot harder than I ever imagined to stop myself from dashing in and trying to micro-manage, and then losing my temper when my efforts are either ignored or resisted.  Saint Joseph, ora pro nobis.

Oh, speaking of age….I saw Lee Majors, of all people, on the teevee last evening hawking a “bionic” hearing-aid.   For some reason, this made me feel very old.  The Six-Million Dollar Man was a fixture of my misspent yoot – I can’t recall whether I actually had a Col. Steve Austin action figure, but I rayther think I did – and to see him badly reading a cue-card in a mumbly voice really hit me.

Well, enough of that.  It’s a beautiful mid-October day and I do believe that this will be the last lawn-mowing of the season.   Here’s a question for you:  The back yard of Port Swiller Manor is enclosed in a white rail fence that, after twelve years or so, could really do with a new coat of paint.   Somebody told Mrs. R that we really ought to power-wash it before painting, given that some of the rails are a bit grungy, but I’m inclined not to a) because of the additional work and expense, and b) because I worry that directing a jet of water at some of the boards will cause them to disintegrate.   Is this a short-cut to nowhere?

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, the title refers to a particularly squishy Christmas folk hymn that makes my toes curl, but since the stores have had their Halloween and Thanksgiving stuff out for a couple weeks already, I’m rolling with it.

So here are some things about which I’m wondering:

♦   It is the long-standing custom of our eldest cat, as soon as she senses I’m awake in the morning, to plant her considerably weight on my chest, purring loudly and trying to hypnotize me into getting up and feeding her.  Although my body is under the covers, does she have some sort of sense that she’s sitting on me, or is she just instinctively going for the high ground?  Personally, I think it’s the former because, well, because that’s just the sort of thing a cat would do.   If the latter, why wouldn’t she aim for the pillow instead?

♦   The construction code issued by our benevolent and paternalistic local gub’mint decrees that external staircases must include small lights in the faces of every other step, lest we rubes trip in the dark and break our necks.   The system on our new one leading down from the porch is supposed to work on a photo-electric sensor, flipping itself on automatically at dusk.  So far, this has not been the case.  Sometimes the lights come on in the middle of the afternoon.  Sometimes they don’t come on at all.  For some reason, this reminds me of the intercom systems that were a popular home innovation back in the day.  Never once did I ever come across such a system that actually worked.   To me, this was an early lesson in the importance of not being seduced by the “wonders” of technology.

♦   NPR nooz is carrying an item this morning about some gang-related mass shooting in a park on the south side of Chicago late last night that injured a large number of people, including a 3 y.o. boy, a fact highlighted by the announcer.  I assume NPR is leaning on this from the martyr angle (because gunz, you guys!!!11!!111!), but the question that came to my mind was:  What the hell is a toddler doing in a park in the middle of the night, anyway?  

I know, I know.  I denounce myself.

♦   And speaking of such things, they held a memorial service for the victims of the Navy Yard shootings down the Cathedral earlier this week.  A local nooz crew took some footage of the choristers rehearsing, and it made its way to YooToob.  Teh Middle Gel is on the right.  Enjoy!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It suddenly dawned on ol’ Robbo today that he had completely missed something of a milestone around here.  Specifically, this past July 30 marked the 5th Anniversary of this port-soaked, Stilton-stuffed blog.

Several excuses for this oversight come to mind.

For one thing, it’s been a hectic, distracting year here at Port Swiller Manor and, to be frank, casual blogging has taken rayther a back seat to other concerns.

For another,  I’ve watched teh SightMeter stats gradually shrink over the years, my hit-average declining steadily since the old Llama Days.   (Back in teh early days of teh blogs, some writers took the it-doesn’t-matter-to-me-how-much-traffic-I-get-so long-as-I-post-true-to-myself attitude.  This, as I said at the time, is utter bull-hockey.   Anyone who tells you that they don’t pay attention to hit-counts and don’t care about comments is a liar.  And hit counts impact directly on teh creative juices.  Just ask Dickens.)

For a third, blogging simply has become more physically difficult of late.  This year, teh office techie gate-keepers seem to have blocked out WordPress altogether, seriously harshing my long-standing custom of slapping down posts whenever they occur to me during the day and confining me to evening and weekend bloviating, not my strong suit.

So, with all that, you perhaps may understand why Robbo failed to order teh balloons, ice-cream and clown.   (Well, I wouldn’t have ordered teh clown anyway.  We hates clowns!  All that malice buried beneath a deep layer of jocular grease-paint!  But that’s another story.)

Anyhoo, for those two or three friends of teh decanter that still gather together here, let me apologize for my forgetfulness and make it up to you by cracking open the vintage ’64 Sandeman and sending it round directly.  Bumpers all round, ladies and gentlemen, gunn’ls under and no heel taps!  Thankee for your support and here’s to your collective very good health!

 

 

 

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