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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?

 

 

 

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.

CoriolanGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

Pace Cole Porter, I couldn’t resist the post title because last evening ol’ Robbo kicked off his annual Bachelor Week by watching Ralph Feinnes’ 2011 production of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus.  (Go here for a synopsis of the story, which the Bard is supposed to have pinched from a translation of Plutarch.)

I will confess that, despite having concentrated on Shakespeare as a college English major, I have never read this play nor seen a performance of it before.  Indeed, aside from being aware of its bloody reputation, my only previous encounter had been a still photo of Laurence Olivier playing the part, being held upside down by his ankles and covered in gore.  (Oh, and as a complete aside, Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture is, IMHO, one of his best bits of incidental musick, although it has nothing to do with the Bard’s play.)  So my opinion probably isn’t worth all that much.

Nevertheless, I believe the film was, on balance, worth a dekko, and I raise a glass to whomever of you recommended it.

On the plus side, the play itself is classic tragedy.  Coriolanus (if you haven’t clicked the link yet) is a noble hero of the young Roman Republic, having devoted his life to her wars against both her Etruscan oppressors and neighboring cities.  By every right, he ought to be propelled to the highest offices and receive the highest accolades, but his Patrician pride and his refusal to kiss the collective backsides of teh Roman mob drive him to his eventual undoing.   You will seldom see a better teeing up of the ancient Grecco-Roman literary concept of hamartia, the Tragic Flaw.  Furthermore, with Feinnes himself as the glowering Coriolanus, Gerard (“SPAAAARTAAAANSSS!!!”) Butler as his arch-enemy Aufidius, and Vanessa Redgrave (yes) as his mother, Volumnia, you’ve got a solid core of actors who actually know what to do with the Bard.  (Most of the extras seem to be Jugs of one sort or another with names ending in -jovic and -jevick.)

On the minus side, the play is set in modern times, something which regular friends of the decanter will know generally displeases ol’ Robbo.  (Indeed, I suppose the point Feinnes was after was to make it look like an episode out of the recent unpleasantness in the Balkans, which would explain the ethnic make-up of the extras.  The comparison to the history of early republican Rome is not completely illegitimate.)  So instead of men running about with plumed helmets and swords, you get men running about with body armor and modern weaponry plus lots of stuff blowing up.  I suppose I could live with that.  What I didn’t like was the accompanying modern media portrayal of war – complete with nooz flashes, punditistas (including a Bill O’Reilly lookalike) and video cameras everywhere.  There’s where your “relevant” setting drifts across the line to annoying distraction.  On the other hand, I thought the scenes of parliamentary maneuvering – especially the bits featuring the Tribunes – the “crows to peck the eagles” – who were out to hocus Coriolanus for being such a shhhnob- were really quite effective.

Finally, the film is shot in that bobbly, hand-held style so fashionable these days that tends to give ol’ Robbo something of a headache, particularly when, as was the case last evening, he is weighed down to the Plimsoll mark with wiener schnitzel and potato pancakes.

All in all, though, I’ll give this film two and a half bumpers out of five.

Next up,  The World’s End.

UPDATE:  I was chatting with teh Mothe this afternoon about this fillum and she remarked that since Schindler’s List she simply can’t bear to watch Feinnes.  I admitted I’ve never actually seen it, as I am too much of a coward.  Same deal with Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.  I dunno how I would respond to the Real Thing, but my tolerance for, well, Screen Evil is pretty durn low.

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!

This afternoon ol’ Robbo attended the annual “Father’s Day” pick nick and elementary class talent show at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method, his very last, in fact, given that teh youngest gel graduates next week.

All in all, the talent show was somewhat above average, considering the available, um, talent.  It was the usual array of piano recital pieces, tin-whistle Irish jigs and teeny-bopper choreography, leavened with a few odd-ball acts such as a demonstration of origami and a stand-up routine of Spoonerisms.

Indeed, it could have been a lot worse.

Nonetheless, I have to say this:  If I hear the song “Let It Go” too many more times, I feel I may well reach that point famously identified by H.L. Mencken at which I spit on my hands, hoist the black flag and begin slitting throats.

See if I don’t.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Mrs. Robbo and I were sitting over a kaffeh this morning and reviewing the past week, as is our wont, when we suddenly realized:  It’s been pretty durn good.  No crises, no fights, no drama, and everyone seemed to have good news of one sort or another.  (Needless to say, these discussions are dominated largely, almost exclusively, by the topic of teh Gels.)

The klaxons will probably start sounding the alarum again over one damned thing or another as soon as I post this, but it was lovely for both of us just to sit back and savor the moment.  And in that spirit, some gratuitous Dad posting for you:

+Teh Eldest Gel:  Regular friends of the decanter will know that ol’ Robbo hasn’t posted much about teh Eldest here over the last few years.  Suffice to say that she and Adolescence didn’t get on very well with each other and we had an awful lot of stuff to get through, none of which would be suitable for discussion here.  However, now that she’s on the backside of it, and especially this spring, we are seeing what we believe to be a genuine blooming.  She’s paying attention in school, developing her game plan for college and just generally beginning to enjoy life.

Anyhoo, yesterday she was bearding me about politicks, which has become one of her favorite topics.  Specifically, she was lamenting the fact that she didn’t get to grow up in the Reagan Era like I did (although I pointed out that I was only a year younger than her when we got rid of Jimmah and brought in the Gipper), and wondering what is going to happen in ’16.  As she talked, it occurred to me again that this isn’t just academic:  She’ll be old enough to vote then and, buh-lieve me, she has every intention of exercising her franchise.   It also occurred to me that she doesn’t really have a “thing” yet, and that maybe she’d be interested in doing some campaign work – stuffing envelopes and whatnot.   (She’s announced that she’s a Randian, by the bye. (As in Paul, not Ayn.)  I think she looks up his speeches on YouToob.   Apart from giving my stock reservation about apples and trees and the dangers of neo-isolationism, I’m not going to quibble with her at this point.  She absolutely loathes She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and identity politicks in general, so I know that I’ve done my job well enough.)

+Teh Middle Gel:  Last evening, teh Middle Gel attended her 8th Grade class “Morp”.  “Morp” is “Prom” backwards- what used to be called Sadie Hawkins- and is the Big Event of the social year at her school.  I had been a bit uneasy ahead of time because she generally doesn’t like this sort of thing and I didn’t want her to come home feeling flat after all the build-up.

Well, I needn’t have worried.   As teh Gel almost invariably dresses casually, comfortably and modestly for school, nobody there ever really associates here with fashion despite the fact that she is really very pretty.  However, she put on the dog for this dance, and my spies tell me that there were some bulging eyes and dropping jaws, and even a number of the Beautiful People complimented her in surprise about her appearance.  (I didn’t see her myself because she got dressed at a friend’s and I had dozed off by the time she got home, but I got a preview last week so I can imagine what was going through their heads.)   I know she had a lot of fun dancing and chatting and whatnot, but I also suspect she got as much amusement out of spiking these people as anything else.

*Teh Youngest Gel:  Yesterday saw teh Youngest give her final appearance down the Folger Theatre as a member of St. Marie of the Blesséd Educational Method’s troupe of actors.  This year, her class did a stripped-down version of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors,  teh Gel playing the role of Angelo (or in this case, Angela) the Goldsmith.  (Curiously enough, I was cast for this same part in my first venture into theatre – I was a sophomore in high school, I think.  The play never came off for some reason or another, but still.)

The gel has a perfectly round head, enormous blue eyes and a small nose, the result being that her facial expressions are clearly visible when she’s up on stage.  Couple that with a lively personality, seemingly infinite lung capacity and a voice that can penetrate like a steam-whistle, and you’ve got acting gold.  (Gold, Jerry!)  I can very much see her pursuing an interest in theatre as she moves up to middle school and beyond.  Indeed, again looking back to my own high school days, she would have fit right in with the Drama Geek crowd at my old school, around the periphery of which I used to loiter.

Musing on her performance, it occurred to me to wonder about the origin of the expression “to ham it up” on stage.  This site gives the following explanation:  “1880–85; short for hamfatter, after The Hamfat Man, a black minstrel song celebrating an awkward man.”  Anybody know if this is true?  And are we even allowed to say such things anymore?  (I also looked up the lyrics to that song.  I sure as hell am not reposting them!)

Well, that’s it for now.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Back in the day when he metro’d into work, ol’ Robbo was guaranteed at least some exercise every day by the fact that his office is about three quarters of a mile away from the stop where he got out.  Indeed, regular friends of the decanter may recall that I used to post random commuter observations here with some frequency.

However, this little routine went the way of the dodo almost two years ago when I started driving into town in connection with dropping off and picking up various gels at school.

I have felt its absence rayther keenly, both because I feel generally flabbier and also because my cholesterol has spiked somewhat and I don’t enjoy being yelled at by my doc.

Anyhoo, recently I have tried to rectify this situation by starting in on walks at lunchtime.  Indeed, I’ve developed a nice little loop slightly expanding on my previous path that is probably good for a solid mile and three quarters.  It ain’t exactly triathlete training, but I do feel the effects afterward and, after all, it’s better than nothing.

As I swing along, I sometimes listen to the conversation of the various office drones and touron groups I pass.  This often brings to mind that country song from a few years back with the punch line that goes, “God is great.  Beer is good.  And people are crazy.”

But more often than not, I give my thoughts free rein to wander where they will, leaving only a skeleton crew in the here and now to keep me from walking straight into lamp posts, oncoming traffic or fellow pedestrians.

As I was wool-gathering my way through an intersection this afternoon,  I heard a singsongy voice say, “Excuse me, Mr. Potentially Friendly Person….”  I registered a brief vision of a hippie with a clipboard, too.  It was only a second or two later that I realized the guy had actually been addressing me.  On this coming back to the present, I also became aware that the dude was yucking up the incident with one of his cohorts as well as, apparently, a group of people who had been directly behind me.   It would seem my blow-by was intensely amusing to all of them.

Not wishing to break my stride, I simply kept going.

Eh, it’s probably just as well he didn’t actually engage my attention at first, because I probably would have been pretty short with him.  We’ve reached a point in our wretched, festering culchah where politicks have become so poisonous that the only safe response to a stranger (or indeed, anyone other than one’s immediate family or closest personal friends) asking for one’s opinion on the hot-button topics of the day is, “That’s none of your business.”

And now, to tie in the title of this post and at the same time violently chang the subject, I give you a little Chicago.  I’ve always liked Chicago.  Forget the lyrics, which are the usual early 70′s hippie crap – to this day, I still don’t know what “25 or 6 to 4″ is supposed to mean:  I’ve always  just thought they had a nice, fat sound, especially with that horn section, and some sweet harmonies.

 

Yes, I suppose I must denounce myself now.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Regular friends of the decanter will recall that ol’ Robbo’s eldest gel got her learner’s permit t’other day and spent a little time that afternoon poking about one of the local high school parking lots. 

Well, sir, that was Saturday and I naively thought said pokings would be the order of biznay for at least a week or two.

Riiiight.  As Diane Keaton, sending up Marlon Brando’s Stanley Kowalski in Sleeper put it, “Ha!  You got that? Ha! HA!”

Little did I realize then how thoroughly bitten by teh driving bug teh gel actually was.

Sunday afternoon she spent several hours driving Mrs. R hither and yon across the greater part of Northern Virginia.  (And gas is only $3.85 a gallon now. Huzzay!)

Yesterday teh gel was in command of the Honda Juggernaut® v.2 as she and Mrs. R went to pick up teh youngest gel at St. Marie of the Blesséd Educational Method.

This evening, she piloted said beast – the car, not the youngest gel – home in the midst of a thunderstorm.  As she came in, she said, “Dad! I parked in the garage and everything! And I didn’t even hit your car!”

Wearily, I closed my eyes and quietly poured myself another glass of teh blushful Hippocrene.  What else can one do?

Anyhoo, Mrs. Robbo reports that in the few days she’s actually been on the road, teh gel’s driving has been superb- careful, conscientious, but not hesitant.  In fact, the reports indicate that teh gel is a natural.

Frankly, I’m not really surprised, come to think of it.   Like certain other members of the Family Robbo, she often baulks at others’ authority, but when she feels she’s in command she can do wonders.

Her next goal?  Driving to school.  Which, because of scheduling constraints, involves not teh Juggernaut, but ol’ Dad’s Wrangler…..

Permit me to reach over for just one more glass of that ol’ blushful H.

Although she sees no good reason why we shouldn’t begin the new regime immediately, I’ve explained to her several times over the past couple days that a stick is considerably different from an automatic, as is a little ol’ fly-weight 4X4 from a full-sized SUV, and that she can’t just jump into the pilot’s seat and take off.

Nonetheless, ol’ Robbo sees the writing on the wall:  If we’re not out at the HS parking lot some time this weekend popping the clutch and grinding the gears, then I’m a Dutchman.

Wish me luck, my fellow port swillers:   When something interests her, teh gel is a great student.  I, on the other hand, am a lousy teacher.  We shall see what happens…..

In the meantime, Robbo is listening to:

This afternoon the Middle Gel headed downtown for a “sound-check” session ahead of a gig she’s got tomorrow morning at the reopening of the Washington Monument:

The National Park Service will hold an opening ceremony May 12 to celebrate the reopening of the Washington Monument after years of repairs.
Al Roker, the TODAY show’s weather anchor, will serve as the master of ceremonies and will be joined by “American Idol” Season 12 winner Candice Glover. Also in attendance will be the Old Guard Fife & Drum Corps, the United States Navy Band, and the Boy and Girl Choristers of Washington National Cathedral Choir.

The 555-foot monument honoring America’s first president is reopening for the first time since August 23, 2011 after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake caused significant damage to the structure and forced its closure.

The ceremony is open to the public and will take place Monday, May 12 beginning at 10 a.m. on the southwest grounds of the Washington Monument.

The other day teh Gel mentioned that her musick director (known in teh family as “Mr. Big”) had described this event as one of high exposure with relatively little work for teh choir.  (I think they’re singing one of their old stand-bys.)  This made me chuckle.  The kids, in addition to their regular performances and rehearsals, also take lessons in voice, theory and keyboard.  I’m very glad Mr. Big is teaching them something about the realities of Shoo Biz, too.

This evening when I picked her up, teh Gel told me that the kids got to go up to the top of the Monument for a sneak-peak preview. She really enjoyed the view.  Me, I’ve never been up there, despite having lived in the area for nearly twenty-five years, and have no plans to do so whatsoever.   Because heights.

Oh, I gather the major networks are carrying the doings tomorrow morning, in case you’re interested in tuning in.

POST HOC UPDATE:   I give you the troupe in action.  Teh Gel is front row, fifth from the right, looking determinined. ( Go here for a video of them in action.  I was wrong in my earlier thoughts about the choice of musick.  It turns out that they sang an original arrangement of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” that they only received for the first time yesterday.)

Cathedral Choir

 

Let me say, parenthetically, that I don’t post these items to stick on side, but instead for the benefit of teh Mothe, Sistah and other family members.  Well, okay, I’m proud as hell, too.

When I picked up teh gel from school this evening, she still had her “talent” credentials strung round her neck.   She was also wearing a John Deere baseball cap, part of a swag bag handed out to the kids that contained nothing else except a bag of potato chips.  (There’s simply no fathoming the corporate mentality.)  But as I say, that’s shoo biz.

 

Weeeyall,  the Eldest Gel got her learner’s permit this afternoon.  It seems she celebrated by driving Mrs. R around the parking lot of Trans-Madison High for an hour or so in the Juggernaut® v.2.

I sense this is one of those epochal moments that will forever shift what one might call the Port Swiller Family calculus, if you know what I mean.

Later this afternoon, teh gel said she wants me to teach her how to drive my Wrangler.

I opined that it’s probably better for her to learn the basic feel of driving on an automatic first and that we can upgrade to stick once she’s got a bit of experience.

She pointed out that I learned how to drive a stick first and that I did so when I was twelve. (Me and my reminiscences!)

I noted that I had learned on remote ranch roads of dirt and crushed rock with no other traffic than a few armadillos and that she will have her hands full dealing with crazy NoVA traffic as it is without the added distraction of clutch and stick.

She countered that teh Juggernaut®  v.2 is way too big a beast for her to start out on.

I said deal with it.

As a matter of fact, I’ve a feeling we’re going to be shopping for used mini-SUV’s such as a Honda CRV sooner rayther than later.   When discussing this possibility with teh gel, she was wonderfully startled to learn that we considered whatever wheels she eventually gets to be a privilege rayther than a right, and that we will not hesitate to confiscate the keys whenever we feel it to be appropriate or necessary.

Leverage, baybee…..

 

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