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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Last evening the boys and girls down the Cathedral put on their annual Lessons and Carols Festivus and this year the thing was live streamed and YooToobed.  Teh Middle Gel and her crew do their stuff starting at about 51:30.  She is in the second row, third from the right.  (Co-incidentally, the soloist was a classmate of teh Eldest Gel in middle school at Robbo’s parish.)

I put this up here mainly for the benefit of the Mothe, who lives too far away to see teh Gel in action in person, but I have to confess that I also am motivated by my immense pride in what she is doing.  I can only ask your indulgence and hope that, at least amongst the longer-standing friends of the decanter, you understand the combination of my intense love of musick and my sincere delight in my offsprings’ achievements that compels me, and do not come away with the impression that ol’ Robbo is simply sticking on side.

(For what it’s worth, BTW, I’m told that none of the choir particularly liked the piece they sang.  But that’s showbiz.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was flipping idly through the assortment of “holiday” cards that have piled up on the side table by the front door of Port Swiller Manor this evening when he realized that, out of about thirty or so such cards we’ve received so far, only one of them took as its theme the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Most of the rest feature montages of family photos.  My favorite is one that came in the shape of a Christmas tree ornament, complete with ribbon for hanging on a convenient branch  – to honor, I suppose – our closeness.*   Its computer-generated mailing label spelled the Robbo family name wrong.

I throw this out as observation, not condemnation.  Truth of the matter is that, as Port Swiller Communications Director, Mrs. Robbo took the same route with our own cards (although she prided herself on actually hand-addressing the envelopes).   When I raised some mild concern, she replied that I was perfectly at liberty to send “real” Christmas cards to anybody I like, including my imaginary internet friends, and good luck.  Until I stepped up and started writing, however, I could stuff it.

Yes, Dear.

To give you an idea of my “stepping up” is such matters, I’ve still barely made a dent in the set of Madonna and Child cards I bought a couple years ago.

Yes, I denounce myself.

* True story:  The female of this couple was a classmate of Mrs. R in college and she and I went out on a blind date literally the evening before I met Mrs. R.  Said date was a first-class disaster and I believe said classmate actually doesn’t even remember it.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

♦  Well, ol’ Robbo was finally forced to break down and go get the Tree yesterday afternoon, checkmated by the Port Swiller Family schedule for the next two weeks which precludes decorating the thing any other time than this afternoon.  UPDATE: Done and done.  As per usual, Ol’ Robbo strung the lights and the gels put up all the gewgaws.    Made a good job of it, too.

♦   One of my many casual neuroses is a fear that the tree is going to slide off the roof of the ol’ Jeep as I bring it home.  Every year I look dubiously at the thin strands of twine being strung across the thing higgldy-piggldy by mere kids and wish I’d brought along a set of bungee cords.  Every year I creep along the five or six miles from my church to Port Swiller Manor at the pace of a Florida retiree in a Cadillac on I-95.  And every year my fear is proved misplaced except the one year when I forgot and did my usual bootlegger turn into the driveway.  Dang tree practically took off, sliding down the windshield right in front of me and trying to roll overboard.

UPDATE:  Forgot to mention that when the kid was loading the tree on top of La Wrangler, he asked me how I liked driving her.  I replied enthusiastically, after which he said, “I dunno, it just looks so bad-ass.”

Get that?  What have I been saying all this time?  Robbo is a Bad Boy!

 

♦  Speaking of driving at this time of year, when ol’ Robbo is installed as Emperor, putting a wreath on the grill of your car is gonna cost you a hefty fine.  Putting antlers and a red nose on it is going to constitute a flogging offense.  Just so you know.

♦  I have to admit that this made me violate the No Hot Beverages rule, to my loss.  You’ve been warned.

♦   On a more serious note, here it is Gaudete Sunday already and I don’t feel the slightest bit prepared.   I’d had big plans for this Advent in terms of readings and meditations, but work busyness and a series of domestic fires to put out totally threw them out.  Oh, well.  I’d better get going.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I think I might have seen this one before, but it still makes me laugh:

st nick

I love these memes.  Why not use the tools available to wrestle back images co-opted by the popular culture?

And speaking of the holidays, Mrs. Robbo and I are off later today to the Cathedral to hear the Middle Gel and her mates sing Handel’s Messiah.  Watch this space for my review.

UPDATE:  Sigh…..Have I mentioned lately what it is like to live in a house with three teenaged daughters, especially for someone like ol’ Robbo who values peace, calm and order very highly?

Yes, it’s an open question whether my liver is going to last until we can get them all packed off to college.  And after breaking up an apocalyptic cat-fight over a pair of shoes a while ago (shoes, for all love!), my thought on this Feast of St. Nicholas was RELEASE THE KRAMPUS!

krampus and NicholasWho?

In Germanic countries, St. Nicholas is accompanied by Krampus, an evil spirit or little devil, usually dressed in fur or black with a long tail, and carries a rattling chain, birch branches and a big black bag. In Holland Sinterklass or Sinterklaus leaves from Spain on a boat, accompanied by Black Peter (Piet), his Moor servant. Peter wears animal skins or the traditional medieval Moorish colorful clothing. M December 5, St. Nicholas Eve, is known in some rural areas of Austria as “Krampus Day.” Children and adults go to the village square to throw snowballs and try to chase off Krampus. Other Krampuses lie in wait, rattling their chains and threatening to carry off naughty children in their black bags, or to punish them with their birch branches. All this is done in fun; Krampus’ main purpose is remind the children to be good.

Yes, carrot and stick.  But of course, by today’s standards of raising the precious little snowflakes, it’s almost a hate crime to even hint to them that their bad behavior might have, well, bad consequences.

Grrrrr….

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

My apologies for the thin posting of late, both in number and substance.  I’ve got about half a dozen draft posts queued up, but my Muse seems to have taken a powder and nothing worth reading is coming together.  Heigh, ho.  It’ll pass.

In the meantime, I give you a meme the Eldest Gel showed me this evening that made me laugh quite a bit:

jesus bear

 

 

 

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.

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