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happy t-dayGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, ol’ Robbo is out for the next few days in order to revel with those members of his family who are within reasonable reach.

In the meantime, a glass of wine with those regular friends of the decanter (and with those who only drop in now and again):  A very happy Thanksgiving to you all!

See you on the other side…..

Cary-Grant-and-Rosalind-R-001

Stumbled across “His Girl Friday” this evening after I grew bored with the football game.  Rosalind Russell….mmmmmmmm.

And not just because of her looks (which, on the surface, were okay but nothing to write home about, strictly speaking).  No, Russell projected an intelligence and a style and a sense of humor which were every bit as attractive, if not more so, than any of her physical attributes.  (In this, she was much like Jean Arthur, another of ol’ Robbo’s favorites.)

Sigh.  They just don’t make ‘em like that in Hollywood these days.  Yo fazizzle?

Speaking of which, who knew that Bill Murray, one of my very favorite modern actors, is not only Catholic, but is also a proponent of the Traditional Latin Mass and dignified musick?  Money quote:

One new saint he does approve of is Pope John XXIII (who died in 1963). “I’ll buy that one, he’s my guy; an extraordinary joyous Florentine who changed the order. I’m not sure all those changes were right. I tend to disagree with what they call the new mass. I think we lost something by losing the Latin. Now if you go to a Catholic mass even just in Harlem it can be in Spanish, it can be in Ethiopian, it can be in any number of languages. The shape of it, the pictures, are the same but the words aren’t the same.”

Isn’t it good for people to understand it? “I guess,” he says, shaking his head. “But there’s a vibration to those words. If you’ve been in the business long enough you know what they mean anyway. And I really miss the music – the power of it, y’know? Yikes! Sacred music has an affect on your brain.” Instead, he says, we get “folk songs … top 40 stuff … oh, brother….”

Indeed.

Despite the fact that he made his name doing screwball comedy, I have long thought that Murray has incredible depths of subtlety and I simply love most of his more recent, nuanced stuff.  To find out that he shares ol’ Robbo’s views re the Mass is, well, not so much icing on the cake as breaking out in a new dimension of bonding.

(And lest you thing that I’m indulging in sloppy, blanket praise,  I will confess again here that I have never made it all the way through “Groundhog Day” without dozing off, although I think that’s more me than the movie itself.    Also, I think “Caddyshack” is immensely overrated. )

 

"Home, Sweet Home" by Winslow Homer, 1863.

“Home, Sweet Home” by Winslow Homer, 1863.

Looking back on life so far, I would say that one of the few regrets I have is that I never served in the military.   I registered for the draft, of course, but by then (’80 or ’82) it had long since been suspended (do they still require registration anymore?) and, at the time, the idea of volunteering simply never occurred to me.  Might have done me a power of good between high school and college.

It seems to me that there’s something to be said for a couple years’ compulsory service.  OTOH, it’s my understanding that the military itself really doesn’t want this, as it prefers not to be saddled with deadweight absent some pressing need for mass mobilization.

Anyhoo, when I come to think about it, rayther a lot of the Family Robbo have been in uniform at one time or another.

The Old Gentleman did his four years in the Army Medical Corp.  (I’ve still got his old field jacket somewhere.)  I don’t think he contributed much directly to fighting the Cong, but his posting to Fort Sam Houston was directly responsible for my misspent yoot in South Texas.

The Mothe’s brother was the rear-seater in a Navy fighter-bomber in Korea.  They blew up a Nork ammo train one time.  On the other hand, he was also shot down once (he was wounded bailing out).

A great uncle on the Old Gentleman’s side was a Commander in Naval Intelligence in WWII.  Don’t know if he spent any time at sea, but he wound up at the Pentagon and later served in the Ike administration.  I also recently found out that I am related to a fighter ace who flew in the European theatre (P-51’s, I believe).  Mrs. Robbo’s grandfather also flew a B-24 there, dropping supplies to the Resistance behind German lines.

So far as I know, nobody in my family participated directly in WWI.

As I’ve mentioned here before, my great-great grandfather was a Union artillery officer who fought in the Atlanta Campaign.

Finally, although I don’t have the information directly in front of me, I know of at least three ancestors from the Revolutionary War – one was in the Continental Army, one in a state militia and one had horses commandeered for military service.

So here’s a glass to all of them and to all others who have served.  Thank you!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo, despite the fact that he finds himself fighting a stomach bug, is still reveling this evening after yesterday’s slayfest.  As Mr. Rogers would put it, “Can you say “repudiation”? Sure, I knew you could!”

Perhaps apropos, this evening I was flipping idly through one of the Dee Cee glossies that periodically show up in the Port Swiller mailbox (totally unbidden, I may say) when I came across a bit about a new art exhibit down the National Mall entitled “Out of Many, One”.  Allow The Smithsonian to explain:

Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada is a big artist with big ideas. Standing a wiry 6-foot-5, he is rethinking the concept of portraiture: Instead of capturing an individual on canvas, he portrays universal man in giant “face-scapes” tilled into the ground.

“I want to expand the idea of what a portrait is,” says Kim Sajet, the director of the Portrait Gallery, who sought out the artist after seeing his earth portrait of a girl in Belfast. “The Portrait Gallery commissions paintings, video, photography and drawings all the time. This is about pushing the boundaries of portraiture outside the walls of the museum.”

In late summer, Rodríguez-Gerada was preparing to construct his portrait of an anonymous male on five acres of prime parkland between the Lincoln Memorial and the World War II Memorial. Titled Out of Many, One, it presents a single face that is a composite of 50 men between the ages of 18 and 24, both Anglo and African-American. The artist picked them pretty much at random in Washington, D.C., photographed them and selected elements of each face—“the glint of an eye, edge of a mouth, someone’s lip texture”—for an image he created using Photoshop. Then he turned that image into a line drawing.

The rest of the article discusses the technical aspects of transposing such a line drawing into a massive, multi-acre, artistic tilling.  As a matter of fact, I find the process to be rayther impressive, at least from a mechanical point of view.  (On the other hand, I have very little time for anything that smells of a “stunt”, so there’s that. Christo, anyone?)

However, let’s have a look at the actual product, shall we?  You tell me whether this actually is an “anonymous male” created out of random photographs, or else is yet one more example of an all-too-familiar image:

out-of-many-one-2forweb.jpg__800x600_q85_crop

Granted, ol’ Robbo may be being a bit paranoid here, but if so, I have good reason.  There is no place, NO place, for a cult of personality in a healthy, functioning Republic founded on the Rule of Law.

Going back again to yesterday, I’m hoping that people are finally waking up to this.

all-saints-day-011

 

November 1 is mighty close to being ol’ Robbo’s very favorite day of the year.  Some of this is liturgical, some of it seasonal.  Indeed, there’s some sort of interrelation between the two, perhaps that they both remind us of our mortality.

Trick or treat?  Why not both?
Halloween Delight

 

Hey, I’m a giver.  And who really wants candy anyway.  (Unless, of course, her name is Candy.)

Now go read my travel post directly below that I stomped just to give this to you early.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo has duly noted all day that today is the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, one of the most decisive engagements of the Napoleonic Wars.  Obligatory  illustration:

J.M.W Turner, "The Battle of Trafalgar, as seen from the starboard mizzen shrouds of the Victory"

J.M.W Turner, “The Battle of Trafalgar, as seen from the starboard mizzen shrouds of the Victory”

 

I’ve not much to say this year except to urge my fellow port swillers to raise your glasses to Lord Nelson and the stout British Tars who believed in him.  Three times three and no heel taps, Ladies and Gentlemen!

And for those of you of a somewhat more pious bent, I give you Papa Haydn’s “Nelson Mass“:

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Teh Middle Gel mentioned this evening the fun she and her choir mates have in singing an 8-voice setting of the “Ave Maria” by Gustav Holst.   Ol’ Robbo had had no idea that Holst, who is a bit out of his normal musickal grazing grounds, had ever done such a setting.  Indeed, beyond “The Planets”, I’m not sure I would know a work by Holst if I tripped over it.   So I of course had to dial the thing up and listen.   Here you go.  It certainly will never replace my favorite Renaissance and Baroque settings, but it is pleasant.  And I can understand why a bevy of young singers would enjoy it:

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Surrender_of_General_BurgoynePray allow ol’ Robbo to draw the attention of all you Revolutionary War geeks out there to the fact that on this date in 1777, British General Burgoyne surrendered to American General Gates after the Battle of Saratoga, and on this same date in 1781 Lord Cornwallis surrendered to Washington at teh Siege of YorktownSurrender_of_Lord_Cornwallis

I don’t have much specifically to say about either fight, really.  I just like the coincidence.  Plus, I’m a fan of the works of John Trumbull and like having an excuse for putting up a couple of them.

Oh, and just to add a bit more, it is said that at Yorktown the Brit fifers played a tune called “The World Turned Upside Down” to show what they thought of the biznay.  Here’s a rendition snapped up more or less at random:

 

When ol’ Robbo was a lad, his grandmother gave him a collection of Revolutionary War songs put out by, I think, National Geographic.  (I still sing a few of them in the shower.)  One was a more folksy version of TWTUD (in point of fact, it was a different tune altogether from this) and had lyrics that went, IIRC:

“If buttercups buzzed after the bees/If boats were on land and churches on seas/If ponies road men and the grass ate the cows/If cats should be chased into holes by the mouz/If mammas sold their babies to gypsies for half a crown/If summer were spring, t’other way round/Then all the world would be upside down.”

I know nothing about these lyrics except they were what the man sang on the record.

*Verified by the CDC.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Late last Saturday afternoon, as ol’ Robbo drove teh Middle Gel to a friend’s house downtown for a birthday party sleepover, he found himself listening to an excruciatingly beautiful performance of one of Vivaldi’s Opus I trio sonatas on teh local classickal station.   (The fact that Robbo drives a Wrangler while listening to classickal musick, by the bye, will tell you much about what a weirdo he really is.)

vivaldi trio sonatas opus 1Anyhoo, so moved was I – Baroque trio sonatas are perhaps my very favorite form of art musick – that this evening I hunted up the playlist from that afternoon and tracked down the CD from which the election came.  It’s Vivaldi’s Sonate Da Camera a Tre Opus 1, performed by L’Estravagante, a fairly new group which, it would seem, has not yet recorded very much.  (Yes, the cover art on the CD is somewhat cheesy, but I’m afraid that’s a reality of modern marketing, even for high art.)  Of course I nipped over to the devil’s website and bought a copy for myself.

This is a perfect example of what I was on about the other day regarding the glorious Golden Age of historically-informed performances in which we are fortunate to live.   It may not seem like much when one considers all the signs of the intellectual, spiritual and moral collapse of Western Civilisation that  dominate the headlines these days, but it is at least something.

You can insert a “fiddling while Rome burns” joke here if you like, but I prefer to think of it as lighting a single candle instead of cursing the Darkness.

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