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I Don't Like This Guy

I Don’t Like This Guy

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Please pardon the post-hols silence from your humble host, but we’ve been having another outbreak of the Joys of Home-Ownership here at Port Swiller Manor this week.  Would you like to hear about it?  Super! Thanks for asking!

Whelp, ol’ Robbo had gone down the office Tuesday as per usual, leaving teh gels home to squander some of their last remaining summah vacation time.  (Mrs. R had stayed up in Connecticut for a couple extra days to visit with her parents and grandmother.)

If you will recall, Tuesday was a day of torrential rains throughout much of the South-East and Mid-Atlantic.  The area immediately around the port swiller demesne was no exception.

About midday, I got a call from the Middle Gel.

“Daaaaaad, there’s a puddle in the [basement] study!” she said.

“Well,” I replied, thinking it was just some wet coming through a window frame,”just drop a towel on it for now.”

“Okay,” she said.

A bit later, she called back.

“Um, Dad, the puddle is getting bigger.”

“Well,  put down some more towels.”

This back and forth went on for a while.  Finally, I suggested she call Mrs. X, a friend of ours who was on stand-bye babysitting duty in case the gels needed immediate assistance while I was off at work.

A short while later I learned that what had originally been described to me as a mere “puddle” was, in fact, a couple inches of water spreading rapidly across the entire basement floor.  At this point, I did what any sensible husband would do and called Mrs. Robbo.

“Mooommy!” I said.

Mrs. R then leapt into action from afar, getting hold of our contractor, who in turn immediately sent a crew along to start damage control.

It was only when I got home that evening that I learned of the full scope of the thing:  Carpet ruined.  Pergo in my study ruined.  Baseboards gone.  Bottom of drywall saturated.  In addition, I found that the  Internet servy-routy-thingamajig was dead (as was the printer), which is why I have not had access to the Webz until this evening.

Oh, and a consultation with our soon-to-be-former homeowner’s insurance revealed their attitude that once rain hit the ground, it was our problem, not theirs.  (I picked a hell of a week to quit moonlighting as a drug mule.)

It was also only when I got home that I learned the youngest gel had been trying to unplug things while standing in the flood.  I believe I aged several years right about then.

So what was the cause, you ask?  The rain was coming down so heavily that it overwhelmed all the drainage measures out front and ponded up against the house directly above the basement wall.  It then found its way down between the cinderblocks (which have been showing signs of age, wear and tear for some time) and bled out into the basement at a rate far, far greater than anything I’ve ever seen in 14+ years of residence here.   I blame Manbearpig.

So you lot know what all this means, of course?  That’s right, MOAR RENOVATIONS!

For one thing, they’re going to have to excavate at the side of the house to come at the leaky basement wall and repair it.  They”re also going to put in new floors in the basement (Pergo all the way this time), replace the two feet of drywall they had to cut out all the way around and install a sump pump.  Mrs. R, seeing an opportunity, has also declared that what was once nominally my workshop is going to be converted into another bathroom for the use of houseguests who stay at the Manor.  (The study doubles as a guest room, you see, and to date lodgers have been forced to endure the horrors of the gels’ bathroom upstairs if they wanted to shower up.)

In the meantime, of course, we’ve had to move all the furniture and things out of the basement and are presently working out places in which to stuff them for the duration of the project.  Also, although I got Verizon to run a cable up to a new router in the living room, we won’t have access to the teevee downstairs until it’s all put back together again.

As you can imagine, everything is all ahoo at the moment and probably will be for some time.

At any rate, there you have it.   Seeing as I will not be able to watch my beloved Nationals on the teevee or listen to my stereo in the evening for the foreseeable future, I imagine I may spend rayther more time hanging around here than usual.

UPDATE:  Spent much of the morning moving things out of the basement and trying to jury-rig something close to normalcy.  Not much hope of that, but at the least I managed to set up my stereo and CD player in a corner of the living room so I can listen to musick (with headphones, of course).  I also found a place for the little teevee and DVD player, so I can carry on Netflixing.  So I’ve got that going for me.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, Daddy is home from Peru.  (Spot the riff, if you can.  I’m actually back from Maine, of course.)

All in all, a fairly relaxing week staring at the bay, marred only by the fact that ol’ Robbo neglected to pack his tummy medicine before setting out, in part out of 4 ack emma sloth, in part because he figured that the absence of the usual workaday stresses would render said meds unnecessary.

Well, I was wrong about that.  After the last dosage had cleared the ol’ system, the Port-Swiller tummy began to do a thoroughly unpleasant buck-and-wing, in turn rendering your host somewhat, shall we say, dyspeptic to those around him.  After a few days, Mrs. R got so tired of it that she went into town herself, found some more meds, returned to teh cottage and shoved them at me with a curt, “Take them, dammit!”

Ah, middle age……

Anyhoo, a few odds and ends:

♦   Made the run from Westport, CT to Port Swiller Manor in the wilds of NoVA in 4 1/2 hours yesterday morning, including two Indy-like pit stops.  Not that I’ve ever kept a log or anything, but I believe this to be a personal medal run.   I’m not a reckless driver, but I’ve always been somewhat lead-footed, especially when traffic is relatively light, as it was Sunday morning.  (Note, however, to that red van with Indiana plates:  If you insist on doing 65 mph on the south end of the Jersey Turnpike, do it in the right-hand lane, for Heaven’s sake!  You’ve no idea how many near-accidents I saw involving hot-heads trying to get around you.)

♦   We had a friend come in and house-sit for us while we were away.  I was delighted to see that all the porch plants survived and thrived in our absence and that none of the cats was killed by the others.  Oddly, it seemed to me that the two kittens (a little over a year old now) appear to have grown in our absence.  I always thought cats reached full stature in about a year, but teh gels insist that their growth cycle is longer than that.  Any of you know?

♦  Speaking of growth, I also was delighted to note that the jasmine I planted earlier this year – about which  friends of the decanter may recall my blathering at length – all have new leaves on them, a sign that they like where they have been put.  And while we’re on the subject of gardening, I would also note that I have a climbing rose out front, an Improved Blaze.  For some years I have not touched the thing, and it gradually got so tall as to start getting tangled in the second-story gutter.  This would be fine, except that every year after its glorious bloom and when the weather started hotting up, it would promptly shed all its leaves, rendering me open to snide remarks from teh Middle Gel about putting out the Halloween decorations too early.  Well, this year I decided on radical action:  After it was done blooming, I cut the thing way, way back (to about four feet high, in fact).  For a number of weeks I had nothing but a handful of canes left and thought I might have killed it, but this morning I noticed new shoots on each and every one of them.   Yay.

♦   I read four books while loafing about the Port-Swiller summah cottage:

-   Hercules, My Shipmate by Robert Graves, a rendering of the tale of Jason and the Argonauts in the form of an historickal novel.  I’ve read this book many times before.  Once you get past Graves’ paganism (I think he really believed his carryings-on about an ancient, all-encompassing Mother Goddess usurped by the followers of more recent fraudulent religions – including Christianity), it’s a jolly fun and rayther lusty adventure story.

-  Haydn’s Visits to England by Christopher Hogwood, a delightful little book (an extended essay, really) giving a day-to-day overview of Papa’s doings in Blighty.  One thing I learned (this was my first time reading it) was that the Prince Regent was very, very attentive to Haydn during his visits.  Good.  I think very little of George IV in the main, but credit where it is due.

- Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg.  Just to keep my ire up against that rat-bastard Jean-Jacques Rousseau and all of his ideological spawn who have dedicated themselves to establishing Heaven on Earth, even at the need of putting millions of said Earth’s inhabitants to fire and sword for their own good.   The book came out in January 2008 but seems all the more timely now.  (Incidentally, I’ve decided to devote a deal of time this fall to rereading Locke, Smith and Burke and to finally introducing myself directly to Hayek.)

- The Commitments by Roddy Doyle.  I’ve long been a fan of the movie (which I’ll probably pop in when I’m done with this post), but this was my first time reading the novel, which Mrs. R picked up for me somewhere for a dollar.  What a lot of fun!  And how refreshing to find a young author (he was about 29 when he wrote it) who isn’t a first-class, self-absorbed, whiney wanker.  I’m curious about how those more Doyle-conscious than me think about the differences between book and movie:  The latter, while, I think, adhering nicely to the tone of the book, did turn Joey The Lips inside out as a character, and its soundtrack had very, very little overlap with that of the former, but most of the differences strike me as de minims.   Was Doyle involved in teh movie?

♦  Didn’t look at the Innertoobs a single time while on hols, so I’ve much on which to catch up.  What did I miss?  (I see this evening that Robin Williams killed himself.  Depression, apparently.  I despised much about him during his career, but you hate to see something like this happen to anybody.)

♦  To be honest, however, I did ask teh gels to keep me posted on my beloved Nats’ doings while we were away.   From what I see at this point, I am (touching wood) pretty confident that we are going to win the NL East.  On the other hand, I also think the Dodgers are going to win the NL pennant and that the A’s will beat them in the Series.

♦  Whelp, now that the summah hols are over and ol’ Robbo turns his attention to the impending start of school and other fall activities, I have to ask:  Just where the hell did this year get to?

Nats HatGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

Friday evening ol’ Robbo bugged out after work to meet the Port Swiller family down at Nationals Park to see his beloved Nats open the second half of the season against the Brewers of Milwaukee.

A good time was had by all, except that we ultimately lost and also that a quartet of the Brew Crew happened to sit directly in front of us and a somewhat inebriated, but friendly, member of said party kept leaning back to ask me trivia questions about Nats Park and various team traditions.  Somehow or other, he also managed several times to stick his elbow into my beer.

Eh, that’s part of the game.   So far as I was concerned, it was all good.  Besides, the fellah complimented me, based on what he heard of their chatter, on how much teh gels obviously knew about the game.  Very good.

No, what got me was this:  Not following Brewers baseball, I had heard nothing about Jean Segura, their shortstop, who recently received news that his nine-month-old son back home in the Dominican Republic had died.  Segura had taken some time off, and Friday was his first appearance back at the Bigs.

Well, when Segura stepped up for his first at bat, the crowd at  Nats Park game him a very warm ovation.

My sloshed new buddy was visibly moved by the tribute, and said as much.

This sort of thing makes ol’ Robbo very happy.  Just saying.

Oh, and the fact that we took the series off the Brewers this afternoon is a bit of a bonus, too.

Nats HatGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

You all may talk of your World Cup and such other Will O’ The Wisp trends, but on a far more serious note Ol’ Robbo was delighted to see his beloved Nationals crush the Phils this afternoon and thus winning the series while maintaining a first place tie in the NL East with the Braves going into the All Star Break.

We had a lot of injuries the first half but managed nonetheless to keep plugging away.  I understand that our second half schedule will be somewhat easier:  Given that we are now back up to something approaching our Opening Day strength, this looks to me to be a field ripe for conquest.  (Sooper-Sekret note to Our Maximum Leader:  You and I need to arrange to meet up at a game some time soon.)

Of course, what the heck do I know about these things?

At any rate, what else is there to say but

GO, NATS!!!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo’s memory may be a bit fuzzy, of course, but I simply don’t recall this much ballyhoo in the MSM during the last World Cup.  Of course I understand that it’s long been a pipe dream of the Sports-Industrial Complex and its hangers-on to get soccer really well established in this country and the Cup represents a fresh opportunity to make it a Thing.  But I also can’t help wondering if there isn’t a certain amount of “SQUIRREL!” attached to this year’s pitch:  Yeah, the Middle East is in flames, the Russian Bear is on the loose, the economy is flat-lining, the border is being tsunami’d and the Constitution is being used as t-paper by Certain Persons, but how ’bout them gutsy Americans making it to the knock-out round? GOOOOOOOOAAAAALLLL!!!!!!

Per my post below, call it “Starbucks and Fútbol”.

As regular friends of the decanter know, ol’ Robbo does not care to be hustled by the so-called popular cultchah.  He tends to flat his ears back and dig in his heels.  Whelp, I’m a-flatten’ and a-diggin’ on this one.

Anyhoo, I’ve always found the sport, except when it was being played by teh gels, to be excruciatingly dull.   (True, I enjoy George MacDonald Fraser’s descriptions of fit’bah matches in the McAuslan stories, but  that’s because of the way he tells them.  The man could describe paint drying and make it seem hy-larious.)   Yes, I’m well aware that there’s a tremendous amount of skill and strategy that go into it, but, well, it still bores me.  So there.

Also, now that it’s being enthused over by hipster-doofus Euro-weenie wannabies of the kind who also love electric cars, free-range veggies, the United Nations and post-Christian social mores?  I dislike it even more.

Indeed, there’s only one match that ever really made a significant impression on the so-called braim of Robbo:

 

N’yar, Jim-lad!

So that’s that.  Now if you will excuse me, ol’ Robbo is off to watch a Real American Game, hoping his beloved Nationals will thrash the Cubbies this evening up to Wrigley.

* A riff on a long-standing entry in the Port Swiller Family lexicon.  Go here for the original.

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, Robbo’s beloved Nats have called a temporary halt to their battle against the Dodgers of Los Angelese this evening due to rain.  Port Swiller Manor is located some miles to the north-northwest of Nats Park and teh rain is moving south-southeast.  If what’s happening here at the moment is any indication, this delay is going to last well beyond Robbo’s work night bed-a-bye time, so I’ve pretty much written off getting to enjoy any of the game.  Instead, I’ll put on some Johann Georg Neruda trio sonatas, top off the ol’ glass, and give you some random.

♦  CD Observation I:  I am pretty sure the middle gel filches some of my classickal musick collection from time to time, as several favorite disks have gone missing and I can’t imagine anyone else in the household (including the cats) having any use for them.  (I know for a fact that she has appropriated and, in one way or another, destroyed most of my Mozart opera DVD’s.)  On the one hand, I object because of the nuisance when I wish to listen to them.  On the other, well, how can I….

♦   CD Observation II:  This afternoon on FB, I mentioned that I thought Monty Python’s record version of their “Piranha Brothers” sketch was superior to the one they did for teevee.  (This I attribute to the high quality of their voice-acting and the lack of distraction from a studio audience.)  On further reflection, I think this is true of a number of their sketches – the “Cheese Shop” and the whole “Spanish Inquisition” sequence come to mind, but the standard is far from universal.  Some of their material works best on stage, some on film, some on record.  I still haven’t pinned down the exact formula to explain this.

♦  On the literary front, I’ve been trying for some days to write a review of Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson’s Lord of the World, a piece of Catholic dystopic sci-fy set in the 21st Century that tells of the appearance in a Humanist-Marxist Brave New World of the anti-Christ and the build up to Armageddon.  Words fail me.  Suffice to say that this is about the most terrifying book I’ve read in a very, very long time, as much because of its plausibility and prescience (it was published in 1907) as anything else.

♦  Also on the literary front, as I seem to do just after every Easter, I’ve started in on the novels of Evelyn Waugh again.  So far I’ve polished off Decline and Fall and Vile Bodies.  The latter is perhaps my least favorite of Mr. Woo’s output because of its sledge-hammer brand of satire, but I must admit that I enjoyed it more this time around than ever before.

♦  I mention below that Mrs. R and teh gels were out this weekend giving a lick o’ paint to the back yard fence.  Meanwhile, Ol’ Robbo was busy with early season mowing and trimming.   One side of the back fence at Port Swiller Manor is occupied by a hedge of wisteria.  As I worked around it, I couldn’t help noticing yet again how deliberately said wisteria seems to reach out and make a grab for one’s power tools.  Indeed, they seem to have  a singular genius for getting tangled up in the throttle control and causing the machine to start screaming.  Clever, that.  I don’t know what the neighbors made, had they witnessed it, of the scene in which Robbo pulled violently away from the hedge, yanking on his mower and yelling, “Gerrouto’it! Let go! Let GO, you bastard!”

♦  Speaking of such things, I can’t help noticing that after our long, cold and late winter, many of teh plants in ol’ Robbo’s garden seem….confused.  They’re  all beginning to come up and leaf out, but way late and seemingly in a very hesitant manner, as if they’re not sure exactly what’s going on and would, if sufficiently spooked, go right back to dormancy.   I blame Algore for this.

♦  This past Friday, after complications too tedious to recount, ol’ Robbo finally got the emissions test done on La Wrangler and submitted her re-reregistration bumf online.  Although I printed out a temporary registration certificate, her plates still carry April ’14 tags which are, of course, now past due.  I am hoping that a cop pulls me over just so I can whip out my proof of re-registration and, Jerry Seinfeld-like, say, “Ooooh, I don’t think so!”

♦  Ol’ Robbo voted (absentee) in some sort of local community center board election the other day for the father of one of the youngest gel’s best friends.  I was perfectly happy to help the fellah out, but as I filled out the ballot, I couldn’t help thinking how repugnant the idea of running for any kind of office, however small,  is to me.  On my FB profile, where it asks my political affiliation, I quote the condensed version of William Tecumseh Sherman’s famous sentiment:  “If nominated, I will not run.  If elected, I will not serve.”  To me, Peej O’Rourke nicely sums up all politicks in his formula, “Politics is the business of getting power and privilege without possessing merit. A politician is anyone who asks individuals to surrender part of their liberty— their power and privilege— to State, Masses, Mankind, Planet Earth, or whatever. This state, those masses, that mankind, and the planet will then be run by … politicians.”

No, thankee.  I’ve my next life to consider.

Well, enough for one evening, I think.

Royal Ugly Dude

Royal Ugly Dude

As Robbo’s beloved Nationals had an afternoon meeting today (sweeping the Feesh, I may add), this evening’s entertainment consisted of a rerunning of the very excellent 1989 movie, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

Although I’ve seen this movie something better than twenty times already, our old VCR gave up the ghost several years back and I only had a tape of it.  So it was because I tossed the DVD into the Netflix queue on a whim recently that I got to see it again tonight.

I must say the movie holds up surprisingly well after all these years.  It’s light-hearted, silly and yet morally sound at the same time.  (The sequel, which took itself waaaaay too seriously, was comparatively rotten.)  It’s also full of most excellent quotes.  Perhaps my favorite exchange is this between Bill and Ted’s little brother, Deacon:

Bill:  You ditched Napoleon?  Deacon! Do you realize you’ve stranded one of Europe’s greatest leaders in San Dimas?

Deacon:  He was a dick!

I love that.

As for the “history” presented in teh film, Robbo was reminded once again of his sole real gripe about it, which you will have to endure here since this is my blog.  And it is this:

Among the historickal periods which Bill and Ted visit was that of 15th Century England, where Bill says, “That must be the castle of King Henry.”  There, he and Ted come across two babe princesses, identified as Joanna and Elizabeth.  Eventually, both of them are whisked away to 1989 San Dimas by Rufus the time-traveler and join Bill and Ted’s band, Wild Stallyons.

Well, okay.  But the only King Henry of 15th Century England was Henry VII.  He had no daughter named Joanna. He did, indeed, have daughters named Margaret and Elizabeth (and also Mary and Katherine), but Margaret died when she was 10 and Elizabeth when she was 3.  Hardly what Ted would call “historickal babes”.

I only bring this up because all of the other historickal characters encountered by Bill and Ted – the aforementioned Napoleon, Socrates, St. Joan of Arc, Billy the Kid, Abe Lincoln, Sigmund Freud and Beethoven- are at least plausible.  It’s always struck me that this vague reference to a medieval “King Henry” and his babe daughters was a piece of sloppy shorthand on the part of the writers.

Oh, and git off my lawn.

By the way, the older this film gets, the more prophetic one of its throwaway lines gets.  I’m speaking, of course, of the oral history report given by “Ox” Robbins in which he tries in his jock way to describe an historickal view of the modern world:

 “Everything is different, but the same… things are more moderner than before… bigger, and yet smaller… it’s computers “

Yep.  What else can one say to this than, “SAN DIMAS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL RULES!!

 

 

Ol’ Robbo is enjoying the game this evening between his beloved Nationals and the Feesh of Miami.  I don’t want to comment on the game itself while it’s still in progress.  Rayther, I have two more general things on what passes for my mind re the glorious Game of Baseball.

First, Memo to Major League Baseball re this year’s innovation of challenged calls and instant replay:  Kill it.  Kill it dead.  Kill it completely dead.  Now.  Beat it about the head with a tire-iron.  Drown it.  Drive a stake through its heart.  Put several bullets into its brainpan.  Toss it into an industrial turbine.  Let the dingo eat it.  Draw and quarter it.  Chop it up into very small bits and  jump up and down on them with hobnailed boots.  Burn the bits, toss the ashes into acid and then scatter what’s left to the four corners of the Earth.   Do you see where I’m going with this?  Stopping play for review goes against every single particle of Baseball’s DNA.  It’s wrong.  It’s baaaaaad.  It’s eviiiil.

Second, my children have noted that my habit of yelling “SQUIRREL!” at the teevee just before a pop fly lands in an opposing player’s glove has yet to save a Nats batter over all these years.  I simply reply that teh Baseball Gods reward loyalty and consistency and that somehow, some day, my efforts will be answered. Oh, yes.  Yes, they will.

This latter observation reminds me of an incident a couple years ago where my eldest, then in parochial middle school, tried to get me in trouble.  “Hey, Father S,” she said, “My dad believes in Baseball Gods! What do you think of that?”

“Well, of course there are Baseball Gods,” replied the good Father, a well-known Sawx fan.

Update:  Naw, I appreciate the pro-review comments but my objection stands, especially after having sat through another round of it last evening.  Having Big Brother looking over your shoulder changes the whole dynamic of the game, making it more litigious and less personal, and also disrupting the traditional flow of things.  No, thankee.

Nats HatI should mention here my delight in Robbo’s beloved Nationals starting off their 2014 season with a series sweep of the Noo Yawk Mets.  It seemed to me that, after an initial case of the jitters, the team only got stronger and more confident as they progressed.  Indeed, this afternoon’s finale proved to be a smack-down.

Of course, these are the Mets.   No offense, Gary, but, well, you know….*

The real test of the Nats’ mettle will come tomorrow, as they open their first home stand against teh hated Braves.  I think Boz is right in the article I linked above:  If we can pound the small-fry and battle nobly with the Big Dogs, we’ll be just fine.

So, what else is there to say except,

“GO, NATS!!!!”

Oh, incidentally, I had not seen the off-season report that Julie Alexandria was not returning as MASN’s dugout talent this spring, and didn’t even realize that there was a change until I saw Dan Kolko serving up the sideline commentary last evening.  Well, this gives Robbo a sad.  You can brand me any way you wish, but I liked Julie in the same way that I liked her predecessor, Debbi Taylor:  There’s something about the stat-spewing soccer mom type that causes the port-swiller heart to flutter a bit.

Ah, well.

 

*  Gary, for those of you who don’t know, was a long-time fried of the Llamas and actually became one himself in the last year or two.  We used to mix it up about the NL East back in the day.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers, and a happy Opening Day!  (Those of you who say, “WHAT opening day?” shall be cast into the outer darkness where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth.)  Let’s go to the traditional video, shall we:

Nats Hat

 

Of course, I post this in a semi-cheat of happiness, because ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nats  won their season opener this afternoon, taking out teh Mets 9-7 in 10 innings.  (I confess that I kept open an innertoobs window to MLB Gameday to follow teh game while I was at work.  Bad Robbo.  Naughty, unproductive Robbo.  If Zoot and Dingle of Castle Anthrax are available, I guess I’ll just have to take my punishment valiantly.   Because, you know, I’m very valiant.)

Anyhoo, so here we go, and here’s to the next six months of bliss!

UPDATE:  Our Maximum Leader, in comments to another post below, suggests that we need to meet up for a Nats’ game this summah.  I concur completely.   Who, among you local friends of teh decanter are with us?  Let me know, either via comments or teh email (found in the “About” thingy in the upper right).

UPDATED DEUX:  On re-reading the above 24 hours later, I confess that “semi-cheat of happiness” is a rayther bizarre expression.  I think what I meant was that my enthusiasm for the day would have been curtailed somewhat had the Nats managed to blow the game.

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