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The middle gel has been after me to do a “Flappy Bird” post here for the last few weeks. (Since I’m guessing teh Mothe is probably the only regular here who doesn’t know what this means, I invite her to go here for an explanation.) The gel is something of an addict, with a latest high score somewhere in the 160′s, I believe. We usually have about twenty minutes of sitting in the ol’ Jeep waiting for her school to start of a morning, during which she plays FB while we hobnob. Often times recently, she has tried to get me to play it, going so far as to rap her iThingy against my knuckles so she can claim that just once I gave it a go. I have not failed to point out to her how lame such gestures really are.
As to the post? Well, as I told her, about the game itself I’ve really got nothing. The truth of the matter is that the thing simply doesn’t interest me, nor do the stories of unhinged fan devotion that I’ve heard. Meh, these days nothing really surprises me anymore.
Indeed, if I was her age, perhaps I could see it, but I’m much older and more curmudgeonly now. Perhaps it’s a blessing that we did not have such advanced technology back in my own misspent yoot. In those days, it was all arcade games and my own personal predilections – Berzerk and Spy Hunter – were limited by the number of quarters I could scrounge. (And, truth be told, I loved Spy Hunter mostly because of the “Peter Gunn” soundtrack.) I can’t help thinking that the modern download-till-you-drop unlimited access to this kind of thing is not healthy.
Anyhoo, I had intended to spike the gel by posting here a “Hitler rants” Downfall parody concerning the Flappy Birds. There are several to chose from but, alas, while most have some funny points, they all contain quite foul language, and “I haven’t any sympathy for ill-bred taunts.” However, instead of leaving you hanging, I will post (or perhaps repost) one of my personal favorite, if tangential, Downfall parodies:
Recently ol’ Robbo got his hands on Peej O’Rourke’s latest book, The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way, and It Wasn’t My Fault and I’ll Never Do It Again. As the title suggests, this is O’Rourke’s take on his own generation, its origins, rise and impact on history, which he achieves through a mixture of personal recollection and larger picture analysis.
I’ve been kinda down on Peej’s writing ever since he hit his peak in the 90′s with All The Trouble In The World and Eat the Rich. To me, his style has gradually gotten somewhat, well, staler and a bit crusty. With that said, this is a very well-written book. Even though Peej is an essayist by trade and I believe this is his first attempt at a genuine book-length narrative, nonetheless it holds up very well throughout. (One tool he uses that particularly impressed me is a series of descriptive snippets of his own personal history – starting from boyhood – that he gradually weaves together into metaphoric themes as he progresses.) Also, his observations are as sharp and funny as any others he has made.
Here’s the thing. Peej spends the majority of the book laying down the character traits of the Boomers – spoiled, selfish, perpetually adolescent, hedonistic. He also describes what a wild ride it’s been unleashing such traits on the society built up by its stick-in-the-mud predecessors. All this I expected. After all, so long as somebody is working hard to keep the pantry and cellar stocked, sure, you can have one hell of a party. But, going by the book’s title, I also expected a climactic denunciation and something akin to an apology. After all, Peej has been a Professional Conservative for 40-odd years, specializing in sniping at the foibles of his generation, and I thought the rest of the book was going to be a set up for pulling Peter Pan over his knee and whaling on him with a belt-buckle.
But in the last chapter, entitled “Big Damn Messy Bundle of Joy”? Where he should have looked around and noticed just how badly his generation has trashed the place and how hard – if not impossible – it’s going to be for those of us following to clean it up? He celebrates! While he rightly lauds the creative energies unleashed by the Boomer revolution, he conveniently forgets that for every Bill Gates and Steve Jobs that it might have made there are legions of my hippy Uncle Dave, who last I heard of him 20-odd years ago was tending bar part-time and crashing on a buddy’s sofa. He actually praises the “liberation” of the sexual revolution, which, so far as I can see, has only brought about the destruction of the family unit, plummeting birth-rates, the commodification and dehumanization of sexuality and wide-spread misery. He completely ignores the fact that the Boomers’ looting of the coffers will leave those succeeding them no other use for all those worthless I.O.U.’s than to wipe their bottoms (which won’t even matter because they’ll have nothing to eat). And while he is correct that envy of Western prosperity was a major cause of the Soviet Union’s cracking and faltering, his prediction that the spread of Boomer “values” throughout the Third World will lead to the collapse of all those myriad tin-pot dictators and medieval theocracies strikes me as, well, naive.
Maybe I’m reading his conclusion wrong. Maybe he’s trying to be snarky and sarcastic and it’s simply sailing past me. Maybe he’s only aping his generation’s zeitgeist while not actually sharing it himself. Feel free to share your own takes here. But his conclusion seems to me to come awful close to, “Screw you, Jack! I got mine!” And that leaves a nasty taste in my mouth.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
No, ol’ Robbo has not given up blogging for Lent this year, as it’s simply a much more limited part of my time these days and I don’t feel the need to curtail it. Instead, my silence this week has been due to my having other matters to attend to. My apologies.
♦ I hope those of you practicing had a happy Ash Wednesday. Of course, “happy” is not really the appropriate term, is it? Everyone says it automatically anyway. For myself, I toddled round to the church near my office at lunchtime. The place was packed to the rafters. The Mass was conducted by the priest that I privately think of as Father Shecky, who couldn’t resist making a crack about how happy he was to see the usual weekday crowd. Buh-DUMP-dah! Perhaps I’m a bit of an old fuddy-dud (oh, shut up!) but it didn’t strike me that such a rimshot was particularly appropriate to the day, so I confined myself to a thin smile.
♦ Anyhoo, I wore the ashes all afternoon, much to the obvious discomfort of a number of my progressivista colleagues, and made a point of being especially cheerful and courteous. This year, more than any other I can recall, I was really filled with the spirit of silent witness. I’m sure it bumped me up a couple places on the list of those to be sent to the camps, but I like to believe that perhaps I might have got at least somebody to think about things a little.
♦ Speaking of thinking about things a little, the Dalai Llama is speaking down the Cathedral today, which made dropping off the Middle Gel for choir practice a royal pain, what with police cordons and crowds of New Age types wandering about. Personally, I’ve nothing against the Dalai Llama, nor against Buddhism for that matter, which from what I gather is not really a religion but more of a system of ethics. What irks me is the sort of people who buy “Free Tibet” vanity license plates and fawn all over the Llama because he’s cute, nonthreatening and mystical, perfect for the type who likes to say, “I’m spiritual, just not religious.”
♦ And speaking of school runs, getting around the local streets these days makes me feel like Han Solo in the asteroid field, what with all the potholes. Show of hands for all of those wishing Algore’s Globull Warminz would come back? Yeah, me too. I’ve also noticed a great many new cracks between moldings and walls in Port Swiller Manor, no doubt put there by the excessive cold we’ve experienced. (The other possible explanation is that the house is getting ready to collapse on itself due to the collective pounding of the gels’ feet. I don’t care to dwell on that possibility.)
♦ Speaking of the cold, despite the fact that the grounds of PSM are still covered in snow, I nonetheless feel that I must start spring gardening this weekend with the annual cutting back of the butterfly bushes known to regular friends of the decanter as Kong and the Konglings. Perhaps I’ll have a go at the wisteria, too. March is a schizophrenic month in these here parts and despite the fact that it’s only in the 30′s now, there’s no knowing when we might suddenly find ourselves up in the mid-70′s. (Typing this entry reminds me that if I want to but any spring plantings online, I damn well better do it today if it’s not already too late. UPDATE: Found some Confederate Jasmine vines at a nursery down in Georgia that I’m going to try on a trellis fronting the new porch. The innertoobs swear it’s hearty to Zone 7, which is us. We shall see.)
♦ And finally, speaking of local things, I was flipping through the local fish-wrapper this morning when my eye fell on this editorial paragraph:
Ukraine is not the only place where civil war threatened to erupt last week. In Fairfax County, Loudoun County and the City of Falls Church, there are battles raging between School Boards and the elected bodies (Boards of Supervisors and City Council) that hold ultimate responsibility for allocating taxpayer money.
Okay, ol’ Robbo is throwing a flag on that statement. Unsportsmanlike conduct: Unnecessarily hyperbolic metaphor. Fifteen yard penalty and loss of down.
Well, that’s it for now. Ol’ Robbo is off to scan the headlines before getting about his biznay. What fresh hell awaits us today?
Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy March!
Thanks to global warming (or sumpin’) the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor is enjoying this first day of meteorological spring by bracing itself for yet another snow storm that will hit tomorrow night.
Five Eight to twelve inches is the latest estimate I’ve heard, with a pretty good chance of significant icing. I know that doesn’t sound like much to those of you farther north, but it’s plenty to put us in full-blown panic mode. Once again, Mrs. R and I are making contingency plans to burn the furniture and eat the children if necessary.
Speaking of children and the snow, I’m sure all of you have heard of the custom of wearing jammies inside out in order to encourage snow fall. Well, a fellah told me about another one recently, that of flushing ice down the toilet. Have any of you ever heard of that? I hadn’t.
One of my habits (and ol’ Robbo has habits the way beaches have grains of sand) is to fill the bird feeders on Saturday mornings. They’re generally cleaned out by mid-week so stand empty for a few days, and yet the birds are right back into them within 10 or 15 minutes of my refilling. I got wondering about this today. Is it possible that the locals have some sort of instinctual sense of the timing of my fill ups? Do they spot me at it and know what I’m doing? Do they recognize the visible difference?
Mrs. R and I are going out to dinner with some friends this evening and I’m sure, as is their wont, they’re going to bring up one or more politickal topics. Sigh. The biggest frustration is that these folks get their nooz from the MSM, and to even begin a discussion of the actual merits of a given issue, I have to do all kinds of heavy lifting to disabuse them of the propaganda that has informed their views. So tarsome.
Well, that’s about it for the moment. Ol’ Robbo finally came out and admitted to himself this morning that yes, he has a sinus infection. It’s been a long while since the last one and I forgot how much they hurt. Ouch.
UPDATE: Yay, no politicking at dinner after all. Might have something to do with my saying the last time we got together that I thought “income inequality” was a bogus issue based on false economic premises ginned up for no other reason than to inflame class warfare. Thought the fellah’s head was going to explode.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Prompted by catching AMC’s umpteenth re-showing of Braveheart t’other evening, ol’ Robbo started to write a post on the predictability of Mel Gibson movie characters, but after re-reading the draft, I decided that my insights were so bloody obvious that they would insult the collective intelligence of my fellow port swillers. So consider yourselves spared.
In keeping with the theme of big-budget 90′s historickal beefcake films, however, I will note instead that, following up on my recent re-enjoyment of Francis Parkman’s history of French and British colonial history in North America, I’ve chucked Last of the Mohicans into the ol’ Netflix queue again.
Friends of the decanter might be puzzled by this. After all, said movie makes a complete hash of James Fenimore Cooper’s novel – the wrong couples get together, the wrong characters live and die and the movie’s Major Hayward is teleported in from the Bearded-Spock Universe – and we all know what Robbo thinks of movie bowderlizations of cherished books. (Peter Jackson, for example, is going straight to hell.)
So how can I watch this one? The key word here is “cherished”. I’ve never understood why Cooper enjoys the literary status that he does, or anyway did back in the day when more young people still knew how to read. His books, at least to me, are long-winded, pompous, condescending and heavy-handed. And, as Mark Twain famously noted, as a limousine liberal of his day, Cooper not only was a poor writer, he also didn’t know what the hell he was talking about when it came to stories of the wild. Frankly, I struggled through LOTM and I positively gave up on his Wing and Wing after a couple chapters despite the fact that it was a sea-story. So it simply doesn’t bother me much that his tale of Natty Bumppo is so thoroughly mangled by the film.
Well, there is one part that bothers me: Col. Munro, the real one, was not killed in the massacre at Fort William-Henry by Magwa or anyone else. He actually died some months later, apparently from exhaustion. And I recall that the movie downplays the fact that many of those murdered and carried away by Montcalm’s Indian allies were women and children.
Nonetheless, the movie is gorgeously filmed (although I believe at least some of the scenes were shot in the Blue Ridge near Roanoke instead of the Adirondacks ), there’s plenty of action and a lot of the period (circa 1757) detail is pretty good. And for some reason, Robbo’s beloved Nationals have adopted its score as the “theme” musick at the beginning of their home games. Kinda gets to you after a while.
Oh, may I also note here in reference to the pic above that I absolutely love N.C. Wyeth’s work? Sure, the man was but an illustrator, but he carried illustration to a sublime level. I’d take ol’ N.C. over a legion of “abstract” artistes any day.
**Spot the reference.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
You will no doubt be asking yourselves about the print posted above? Well, it’s by James Gillray – one of ol’ Robbo’s favorite late 18th Century British politickal cartoonists – and is a 1795 piece titled “The Death of the Great Wolf”. It is a parody of Benjamin West’s famous 1770 painting, “The Death of General Wolfe“, another great favorite of mine, given my (well-known to regular friends of teh decanter) fondness for colonial American history, and has to do with a bit of Gubmint over-reach in re the (then) Tory effort to crack down on seditious speech in the face of the French Revolution.
Anyhoo, I won’t go into all the details of Gillray’s parody – go here for a brief description – but I will point out that the glasses-wearing fellah on the immediate left of the expiring Billy Pitt’s “Wolfe” is a caricature of Edmund Burke.
I bring all this up – well, besides using it as a pretense for posting a Gillray print – because I have started in on Yuval Levin’s latest books, The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left. Levin’s thesis, very broadly put, is that the differences in the philosophies of the relationship between governors and governed between Burke and Paine, specifically regarding the French Revolution, have framed the same debate between classical liberalism and progressivist radicalism that has haunted American politicks ever since, and which seems, at least IMHO, to be coming to something of a head these days. I don’t often read politickal books simply because I loathe politicks as a whole (what the great Peej O’Rourke once described as the business of achieving status and power without merit), but somehow I thought this one was worth a dekko.
We shall see. As I say, I’ve just started. So long as Levin reaches the conclusion that Burke was an incremental realist who, with a genuine desire for gradual societal improvement, also took into account both empirical historic evidence and an understanding of Man’s inherent fallibility; and also that Paine was a rabble-rousing Utopian moron who believed in a unicorn in every garage and free, rainbow-flavored Skittles for all, and who didn’t care how much blood it took to get to this vision; well, then we’re good.
As long as I’m on the subject, allow me to throw out this: While I have a great many Whig sympathies about societal improvements, I utterly reject what is called the Whig theory of history. Per Wiki:
Whig history (or Whig historiography) is the approach to historiography which presents the past as an inevitable progression towards ever greater liberty and enlightenment, culminating in modern forms of liberal democracy and constitutional monarchy. In general, Whig historians emphasize the rise of constitutional government, personal freedoms, and scientific progress. The term is often applied generally (and pejoratively) to histories that present the past as the inexorable march of progress towards enlightenment. The term is also used extensively in the history of science for historiography which focuses on the successful chain of theories and experiments that led to present-day science, while ignoring failed theories and dead ends. It is claimed that Whig history has many similarities with the Marxist-Leninist theory of history, which presupposes that humanity is moving through historical stages to the classless, egalitarian society to which communism aspires.
Whig history is a form of liberalism, putting its faith in the power of human reason to reshape society for the better, regardless of past history and tradition. It proposes the inevitable progress of mankind. Its opposite is conservative history or “Toryism.” The English historian A. J. P. Taylor commented, “Toryism rests on doubt in human nature; it distrusts improvement, clings to traditional institutions, prefers the past to the future.”
A.J.P. Taylor was a Commie bastard. Suff on his “interpretation”. More generally, however, I take this whole “inevitable progression” reasoning as a variation on the Unicorns n’ Skittles thing I mention above and condemned as a load of crap. You’re damned right, Mister A.J.P. Taylor, that I have doubts in human nature. History bears me out, I think. And as I repeatedly tell anyone who will listen (an increasingly shrinking audience, I’ll allow), there is nothing, nothing that guarantees our current level of prosperity and order. See, e.g., Fourth Century Rome.
So I suppose that I am either a conservative Burkean or else an enlightened Tory. Which is why I use a portrait of Billy Pitt as my, how do you kids say it, avaterz when commenting on teh toobs.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Regular friends of the decanter may recall that some time in the last couple months, in one of my gloomier moods about the fate of our current Civilization, I mentioned a rayther vague idea about taking some handgun lessons, accompanied by those of the gels who I thought could handle it, and arming Port Swiller Manor.
Connectedly, from time to time in the past few years, I have related to said gels anecdotes about my own firearms experience. When I was a lad of six or seven, I was allowed to fire off a shotgun into a stock tank. Round about the same time, I began shooting a .22 rifle at tin cans set up on fenceposts. A year or two later, I was hunting deer and turkey with a Remington .222 and a few years after that, I was also bird shooting with first a 20-guage, and later both 16 and 12-guage shotguns (depending on whether we were after dove and quail or duck). I also got to be, in my mid-teens, a passible skeet shot, albeit not as good as my brother.
Of course, I haven’t actually picked up a gun in, lessee, 23 years? So I’m more than a bit rusty. And I’ve never fired a handgun.
Anyhoo, most of this a la recherche du arms perdu stuff seems to have sailed right over the heads of the eldest and youngest gels. Just as well, perhaps. The middle one, however, remembers All.
So this evening as we were driving home, she accosted me out of the blue.
“Hey, Dad! When are we going to take that shooting course you talked about?”
“Erm, what? I dunno. I guess I really ought to look into it and do some research.”
“Well, do it! I want to know how to shoot before I’m 15!” (She just turned 14.)
She’s right, of course. But where to start?
A quick and dirty google search revealed to me what an idiot I am: The NRA-Freakin’-HQ-Its-Own-Bad-Self shooting range is within 25 minutes or so of Port Swiller Manor. As Gob Bluth would say, “C’mon!!”
(Of course, any of you friend of the decanter with other NoVA insider knowledge are welcome to submit your own suggestions.)
Either way, I suppose it’s time for ol’ Robbo to get busy. Heck, if this does pan out, I’ve got one Christmas present locked down for sure!
Idly flipping through the latest PBS magazine today, ol’ Robbo noticed that “American Masters” will be airing a tribute to Pete Seeger, who died last month, in a couple weeks. The plug for the program includes this language:
“Largely misunderstood by his critics, including the U.S. government, for his views on peace, civil rights and ecology, Seeger went from the top of the hit parade to the top of the blacklist – banned from commercial television for more than 17 years.”
“Misunderstood”? The man was a goddam Stalinist. And the HUAC people didn’t know the half of it. Yeah, I know Seeger apologized later on, but his apology was of the “Whoopsie!” variety. 20 to 40 million of Uncle Joe’s “whoopsies” could not be reached for comment. Also, I gather that while Seeger came to realize Stalin was, in fact, a Bad Man, he never understood that any system of collectivist utopianism is per se evil.
The column finishes thusly:
“His inspiring story is told by everyone from Bob Dylan to the Dixie Chicks and through a remarkable historical archive - a history that Seeger himself helped create.”
A.) Wow, what a cross-section of perspective, and B.) I’ll bet he did.
This sort of thing drives me nuts. One strategic point the collectivist/progressivist/New World Order types have grasped is that to control the narrative is to control the high ground of both history and the future. You will notice that these people have infiltrated, and now dominate, the Academy, the Press and the Entertainment Industry, from which all modern cultural (and modern politickal) sensibilities flow.
What we do to fight back, I’m not sure that I know. For myself, I suppose all I can do is chip away in blog posts read, probably, by no more than fifteen or twenty people. Well, every little, right?
Now if you all will excuse me, it seems somebody is knocking at the door. Strange, this time of night……..
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Amidst all the fresh clashes and crises boiling up around the world – and thank Heaven we have Top Men working on them (Top. Men.) - Ol’ Robbo noticed a small nooz article this week about David Bowie creating a minor kerfluffle by including some anti-Scottish independence rhetoric in a speech at some musick awards to-do.
I’ve been hearing mutterings about Scottish independence for ages but hadn’t realized that it’s got as far as the scheduling of a referendum later on this year. I suppose I ought to read up on things in order to better understand what exactly the Scots mean by “independence” here, because at first glance the idea appears…what’s the word?…insane.
I’m assuming that their own parliament in Edinburg is a given. But would an independent Scotland still be part of the Commonwealth under the Queen? Somebody mentioned that this might be an excellent opportunity for the revival of the House of Stuart. (Okay, to me that would almost make the effort worth it.)
Would an independent Scotland be responsible for the provision of her own armed forces? A revival of the Highland regiments, for example? Again, that might make it worthwhile.
But here’s the thing that I don’t quite get and is at the bottom of my off-the-cuff assessment. Scotland’s entire economy, from what I can see, is dependent on sheep, tourism and great big fat subsidy checks from London. Without funding from the South, she’s really a pretty poor place. And the people have been on the dole for so long that I don’t get the sense there’s a pent-up spirit of rah-rah entrepreneurship just champing at the bit to be turned loose. How does she propose to, you know, feed herself if she makes a clean break with the rest of G.B?
I’m guessing, however, that the pro-independence types don’t actually want that kind of independence, and that the movement is really more of the Get Out Of My Life, But First Could You Drive Me & Cheryl To The Mall variety.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Driving along this evening, ol’ Robbo found himself behind a truck belonging to some kind of office furniture store. The ad copy on its backside read, “ABC (or whatever it was) Furniture – Where the Customer Becomes Family”.
Similarly, I have noticed from time to time the use of the word “family” in various notes, announcements and invitations down the office: ”Come join the Department of Silly Walks’ Happy Feet Section Family for a Holiday Celebration” and the like.
Frankly, this irks me.
As far as being a customer goes, XYZ Company provides me goods or services and I supply it monies. It’s a business relationship. I might very well get to be quite chummy with the owners or their staff, but unless this goes so far that I or one of my kin actually marries one of them….we’re not family.
Again, as far as office relations go, I always endeavor to be professional and courteous, and am on various levels of friendship with colleagues there, but….we’re still not family.
Now , I doubt very seriously whether the people who use the word “family” in these contexts actually mean any harm. I don’t see this as deliberately Orwellian double-speak. Nonetheless, I find it to be an unwarranted assumption of familiarity, an intrusion into what the kids call my “personal space”, a co-opting of a term that properly describes the fundamental unit of human life established by God the Father Himself, a get off my lawn moment.
Perhaps I’m being hypersensitive, but these things matter. We already live in a day and age in which the traditional definition of family – people united by blood and marriage – has been completely tossed aside in favor of whatevs, dude. This is a Very Bad Thing, and I can’t help feeling that the sloppy transposition of the term to the market and the workplace does nothing to help.
Oh, and bonus points for spotting the quote in the title.