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The headlines today? Good God Almighty!
The bread-and-circuses crowd had better quit trying to figure out whether Ben Gazzi is that ghey linebacker or the latest Kardashian bf and wake the hell up!
Can you believe it? Two whole posts in one day! When was the last time ol’ Robbo pulled that off?
Anyhoo, I happen to be online because I’m over at teh Weather Underground site checking the local radar. Ma Nature and I are currently engaged in something of a struggle. I want to fire up the grill for my steaks and she’s responding by sending a series of isolated but intense storms over the rooftops of Port Swiller Manor. It’s bucketing at the moment, but I believe that once this one rolls through, I should be able to get back out there and get cooking.
Nothing to do but crank up the third and fourth movements of Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony, pour myself another glass of sherry and wait it out……
Ol’ Robbo played hooky from work today (ut-bay, on’t-day ell-tay e-thay oss-bay) in part to recover from the long Easter weekend and in part to settle down to watch his beloved Nats open their 2013 season. The game is just over and I feel it was well worth it. Strasburg pitched seven stellar innings and Bryce Harper got a pair of ‘taters, for a final score of 2-0 against the Fish. Also, according to the teevee, a record-setting regular season crowd, Teddy and Billy Taft took each other out in the Presidents Race and the crowd sang “Take On Me” during the Seventh Inning Stretch. (These last two items are insider stuff. Nats fans will know their significance.) Magic. Pure magic.
It occurred to me that, what with Lent falling across Spring Training to such an extent this year, I had not had the opportunity nor the inclination to make my pre-season predictions re the Nats’ prospects. I’d better do that now, before I turn around and we’re already a couple weeks in.
So here goes:
You can’t see me, of course, but at the moment I have my toes crossed and I’m typing with one hand while throwing salt over my shoulder with the other, these observances designed to placate any wrath that I might generate among the Baseball Gods for appearing brash or cocky. Nonetheless, the truth of the matter is that I think this is The Year. The team has only got stronger since last fall and, barring injuries, will play as a group better than they have ever done before. The Phils are aging and the Braves, though still strong, just don’t quite match up. The Mets and the Fish are nowhere this year. I see no good reason why the Nats can’t win somewhere between 105 and 110 games this season and clinch the NL East again.
Want some more? I think they go to the Series. And win. Why? Well, part of it is the team as described above. Part of it also is Manager Davy Johnson. This is his last year before retirement. He’s called it already. He’s one of the Truly Good Guys in MLB and I feel that the Gods will look down on his last hurrah and smile indulgently.
So with today’s season-opening victory, only 109 to go to make Robbo’s prediction come true. What else can one say but
Oh, what the heck. For those of you who don’t follow Robbo’s beloved Nats, the back-story is that “Take On Me” was the walk-up song of Michael Morse, our left-fielder (and emergency 1st baseman) of the past couple years. Mikey was much-loved among Nats fans, and the crowds quickly got into singing his signature song at the tops of their voices the past year or two. Well, owing to the complications of baseball trading, this year’s off-season found the Nats with an outfield and a 1st base covered, with no place for Morse to play on a day-to-day basis. Heck, that’s the game. Mikey eventually went back to Seattle, from where Washington had got him to begin with, and from where, so I hear, he’s having an excellent start to his season.
Anyhoo, there’s so much goodwill between Morse and the club that the Nats went with his signature tune during the 7th Inning stretch. Personally, I thought it a brilliant and lovely idea. And I hope they (the Nats) keep it up.
And for those of you ’80′s nostalgia types (and God bless the Reagan years), here’s the original vid. Enjoy!
I know I’ve left it a bit late since I typically only get about two visitors here on Sunday afternoons, but you may be interested to know that the local classickal station will be broadcasting a performance of Haydn’s The Creation tonight at 9:00 PM Eastern, featuring the Middle Gel’s choir. The concert actually took place last September and ol’ Robbo’s hands still hurt from clapping so hard.
Anyhoo, if you care to tune in (either on the radio or over the ‘net), you might find it enjoyable.
Well, Spring is kinda, sorta, almost in the air and you know what that means…Yes, that softball season is upon us once again.
Friday afternoon saw teh first practice of the eldest gel’s 13-16 y.o. “senior” squad, a level devoted to getting girls ready to try out for high school ball. The gel had not picked up a ball in a couple years and I confess that I was a leetle apprehensive about what might happen. Would she still remember anything? Would she be afraid of the ball?
Well, from the preliminaries, it doesn’t look like I had much to worry about. The gel has always had a strong arm and a good eye, and from watching the other girls slantendicular, it rapidly became clear that her skill set was at least within visiting distance of most of those who had stuck with the league program. If she puts her back into it, I think she’ll do just fine.
Of course, because I was one of only two dads who stuck around for the whole practice, I was immediately drafted as an assistant coach. (Oddly, or perhaps not, three of the other girls on the squad had been on teams I coached in past years, so there was a kind of mini old-home week for Self and the eldest.)
The youngest gel is playing AAA ball again this year. Her practices started last weekend, but today was a skills clinic down at the fields. I must say again that there is just something about hanging around at the ballpark that I absolutely love – the sights, the sounds, the feel of the place.
But of course, because I was standing about soaking it all in, I quickly got drafted into helping with that, running one of the clinic stations.
Between the fly balls I was lobbing for the eldest gel’s teammates yesterday and the throwing and grounders drills I was running today, my own poor arm is pretty durn tired tonight. (Let’s hope it doesn’t get worse – I doubt very much whether my insurance covers Tommy John surgery.)
Going forward, the youngest gel has fielding practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the eldest on Fridays. Both gels have batting practice on Sunday afternoons.* That’s before the actual games start at the beginning of next month. Guess where ol’ Robbo is going to be spending a lot of time.
As I say, though, I love it.
* In case you’re wondering, the middle gel is also playing softball this spring. But she’s taking it as a P.E. course at school, so I’m off the hook as far as coaching her goes.
UPDATE: Oh, what the heck…. It’s still a couple weeks until I traditionally run this clip in honor of Opening Day for the MLB, but whaddaya say we bend a bit this once….
The Capriccio from Bach’s Partita No. 2 in c-minor, played here by the incomparable Trevor Pinnock.
I’ve mostly given up listening to musick during Lent, but before it started, I found myself attracted to trying to play this dance myself, and on Sundays I still give it a whirl. (For some odd reason that I can’t quite recall, I’ve an idea that the Old Gentleman, who was quite musical himself, didn’t like this particular bit. I’m sure I’ve no idea why.)
Ol’ Robbo took keyboard lessons for quite a few years in his misspent yoot and even, at one point, vaguely toyed with the idea of going to a conservatory. (I was dissuaded from this by observation of the conditions in which my teacher lived, quite convinced that I’d be damned lucky even to get as far as he did if I pursued musicke as a career. That I am now entertaining the possibility of the Middle Gel taking such a path herself says everything about her comparative talent and drive.)
At any rate, since my days of formal instruction, I have mostly developed my talents as a sight-reader. And I may say – with no intended smugness, I assure you – that I have reached a level over the years at which I can play a given piece of Bach or Handel, Mozart or Haydn, well enough that I can derive some considerable pleasure from the experience. I don’t enjoy my playing because of my mastery of a given piece in the mode of a professional. Rayther, I derive a certain very real satisfaction from just being able to stumble through it, from recognizing that I am at least brushing the surface of its greatness, the depths of which are far beyond my energies.
Nonetheless, every now and again I find myself feeling a bit shamefaced at submitting the sublime creations of such geniuses as mentioned above to the loving harshness of such a consummate hack as myself. When in such mood, I resolve that this time I’m going to actually practice as I did (or at least was supposed to) back in the day: I will get the fingering right; I will study the piece measure by measure, repeatedly practicing each hand separately and then both together; I will exert my maximum talent and effort to pay due homage.
I only bring this up because this particular piece is one that is very difficult to fadge, particularly with the leaps required in the left hand. The howlers that I have produced have only been matched in their blasphemy (and perhaps superseded) by my language. Bach deserves better than that.
St. Cecilia, ora pro nobis!
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
My apologies to those two or three of you still loitering over the decanter and waiting for ol’ Robbo to serve up some table-thumping diatribe on such topics as take his fancy, but I did warn that I would be curtailing such activities during Lent.
Now that we’re a week into the season and the programme of abstinence, reflection and devotions is rolling into high gear, I am reaching that traditional point where I wonder whether I had ought to tinker with it.
You see, not only has ol’ Robbo parted from teh grape until Easter (well, barring Sundays of course), but I’ve also axed both teevee and musicke.
This makes the long evenings, well, long.
You might say that I ought to devote the time to improving readings. I would answer that I, in fact, do so, but that one can only take in so much GKC, Newman and Cardinal Ratzinger at a time, especially after a day’s labor, before one’s eyes start to flutter.
You might then say that I ought then to go to bed early. I would answer that I, in fact, have been doing so, but that once I actually insert the person between the sheets, I find myself ironically wide awake. The alteration in diet that comes with the season always has a radical effect on Robbo’s sleeping patterns, making his slumbers much shallower and his dreams much more vivid, while also causing long periods of wakefulness. (The same sort of thing happens whenever I’m traveling on biz nay.) And it doesn’t help that our elderly cat has taken to the habit of yowling at the top of her lungs in the middle of the night, demanding that somebody pet her.
The upshot is a certain amount of exhaustion on my part. Thus the urge to tinker: I gotta get some sleep!
On the other hand, I remind myself that Billy Joel once said, “Don’t forget your second wind.” (Indeed, once that damned tune wandered into my head, I couldn’t get it out again. Somebody please make it go away!)
So for now, I’ll probably just stick with things as they are and see if I can’t just power through until Sunday.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Well, it’s the first Saturday after Ash Wednesday, and the initial shock of ol’ Robbo’s Lenten abstinences (specifically, his giving up of the gargle) is starting to wear off a bit, so how about a bit of random?
♦ I have been following the MSM’s reaction to the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI and its collective opinion of who should replace him and Where The Church Should Go In The Future. All I can say, apart from the fact that most of the opinion seems to be based on blatant and willful pig-ignorance, is that for all the arguments these people are making about the need for Rome to recognize this is the 21st Century and the Future is Now, the overall tone of this criticism is downright….Jacobin. (And I presume you know what that unfortunate movement led to?) One can almost picture, say, Maureen Dowd sitting in the shadow of the guillotine, knitting.
♦ Anyhoo, as something of a personal tribute to the man, I went out and purchased this week a B-16 bobble head, which I intend to place on my office shelf among those of George Washington, Nats’ 2nd Baseman Danny Espinoza and colonial heroine Hannah Dustan. (Call it a very, very small act of, well, tugging on Caesar’s toga.)
♦ I had a dream last night that I was some kind of military leader in Mexico in the 1800′s and I was facing a large crowd of peasants eager to take on the government troops. I recall that I was haranguing them, insisting that I would not take command unless they absolutely swore to obey my orders. I said that I had seen what professional troops did to unorganized rabble and that the only chance the peasants had against them was to submit to the discipline of military training. I recall being quite choked up while giving this speech. In the end, I believe they agreed.
♦ No, I don’t know what it means, either. Except Viva, Roberto!
♦ I see that the daffodils in front of Port Swiller Manor are beginning to form buds. Looks like Snow Miser has taken a powder yet again this year. For some reason, I can’t say that I’m particularly disappointed.
♦ Speaking of natural phenomena, I’m sorry that all those Siberians got cut up when that meteorite hit yesterday morning, but have you seen the videos of that thing? Was it not the coolest, evah? I must say that I have a new-found respect for the Hollywood special effects crowd, because it looked….just like a movie.
♦ I have to ask, though: What is it with the Russkies and dash-mounted cameras? They all seem to have them: In the past couple months I’ve seen plane crashes, lightning strikes and now a meteor crash, all courtesy of some Russian dash-camera.
♦ Finally, a bit of musicke? T’other day the middle gel was telling me how much she enjoyed the Dvorák Humoresque she had downloaded on her i-Thingy. I had to smile to myself: When I was in 7th grade, I recall being infatuated with Schumann’s 4th Symphony and listening over and over again to a very bad cassette recording I had made from an LP record.
♦ Apple? Tree. Oh, I see you two already know each other…..
UPDATE: From Father Z’s Cafe Press collection, we wants one!
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
I hope those of you caught in Storm Nemo are snug and warm wherever you are and have a drop of the crayture handy to see it through.
Last evening the Middle Gel and I attended a Girl Scout Father/Daughter Valentine’s Day dance. Actually, her cadet troop was running the thing, so I suppose it’s more precise to say that we hosted the G.S.F.D.V.D. dance. I must have blown up 150 balloons. (You may insert your own lawyer/long wind/ hot air joke here.)
I must say that even in teh course of just the seven or eight years I’ve been attending these dances with various of the gels, the musicke has changed mightily. Back in the day, I recall dancing to a wide variety of classick rock n’ roll: Getting silly with “Twist and Shout”; getting even sillier with “Shout!”; hangin’ to some Jimmy Buffett; doing some slow stuff to an Elvis ballad; line dancing to “Cotton-Eye Joe”; and (much to my chagrin) doing teh “Macarena”.
Last night it was almost all recent pop. For all I’ve seen mention of them on the innertoobs, I had never before heard, for instance, this “Gangnam Style” thing; I had never before actually heard Justin Beiber; I had never before heard, “Call Me Maybe”.
It was appalling. Appalling in its banality, appalling in its vulgarity, appalling in its sheer barbarism.
And even more appalling was watching a collection of middle-aged men and their fourth, fifth and sixth grade daughters all acting like they were about 21. The vast majority of those kids had teh choreography to these things down cold. And it was choreography, I might add, in which a pole would have fitted quite easily. (“I’m So Sexy”? Really?)
What was the most appalling was that everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, simply blind to the debasement of it all.
O! tempora, and so-forth, indeed. You may label me a prig or a snob if you like, but this stuff is just completely alien to me.
The gel and I only danced to the final track, a more traditional slow bit. The rest of the time we amused ourselves by playing balloon volleyball. The gel was every bit of teh same opinion as me about the quality of the musicke, looking down her nose at the ceaseless, mindless thumpa-thumpa-thumpa and recoiling at the crass, inappropriate lyrics.
In fact, the high point of the evening came once we turned everyone out and set to cleaning up the mess. I let fall to the gel and her fellow troopers the fact that the pins from the
boutaniers Dads’ lapel flowers made quick work of all those balloons. That was fun.
[T]he original curry predates Europeans’ presence in India by about 4,000 years. Villagers living at the height of the Indus civilization used three key curry ingredients—ginger, garlic, and turmeric—in their cooking. This proto-curry, in fact, was eaten long before Arab, Chinese, Indian, and European traders plied the oceans in the past thousand years.
I don’t have much to say about it – I can take curry or leave it alone – but thought I would put it up in case Sistah happens to be reading. She’s the big Port Swiller Family curry expert, having spent some time herself on the Subcontinent, and I’m sure would have plenty of opinions and observations.
I also put it up in order to have an excuse to use the headline, which is the name of the final Chorale from P.D.Q. Bach’s grand oratorio, The Seasonings (Schickele No. 1/2 tsp). Do we have the tape? Yes, yes we do. (Starting at about 9:05):