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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Well, another Saturday dawns at Port Swiller Manor and finds Robbo staring at the radar and wondering whether he has time to spritz the weeds with Round-Up before the thunderstorms move in. Probably not. At least I got the grass cut last evening, so that’s something.
♦ I mentioned the Gels of MASN in the post immediately below. Now I will tell you something about my own gel of summah. The eleven year old has inserted herself in a rotation of two or three regulars playing catcher for her softball team this season. T’other evening I was watching her in action behind the plate when it suddenly occurred to me why she enjoys the position so much: It’s a spotlight. The catchers are constantly complimented by coaches and crowds for their handing of what can be quite eccentric pitching at this level. There’s also great satisfaction in staring down a runner at third who’s thinking of stealing. However, she especially loves dramatically sweeping off her face-mask when pursuing a pop foul. What a ham. (To her credit, she is good at it, too.)
♦ Speaking of ball clubs, ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nats find themselves on a little five-game winning streak and look to be settling back into their true form. My blood pressure has dropped several points over the past week or so as a result. Go, NATS!!
♦ I look with horror and revulsion at the information coming to light about what happened in Libya. (Well, not just that, of course.) But I am all the more horrified by my feeling that nothing will really come of it. Why? Because if you ask the opinion of the average low-information voter, you’re likely to get the answer,”Ben Ghazi? Who? Isn’t he that NFL player who just came out? Or is he the one dating a Kardashian?”
♦ Speaking of such things, I don’t usually read much political or social science, but by happenstance two new books have seized the Robbo attention. The first is Roger Kimball’s The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia. Jay Nordlinger has been quoting and reviewing the book extensively over at NRO, and much of what he cites goes right to ol’ Robbo’s heart. The other book, by another NRO writer, is Kevin Williamson’s The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome: How Going Broke Will Leave America Richer, Happier, and More Secure. I believe that I’ve written here before of my belief that we, as a nation, are hurtling toward catastrophe. But I also said that, however hard it’s going to be, there isn’t reason just yet to save that last round for yourself. Williamson’s theme, from the blurbs and interviews I’ve seen, appears to follow this same line. Anyway, I like his writing style. (UPDATE: Here is The Czar’s review. Makes me all the more eager to dive in.)
I’ll let you know what I think.
♦ Some might suggest that ol’ Robbo spend his valuable reading time not with works that reenforce his own world view but with those that challenge it. To them, I respectfully reply: Get stuffed. Through some horrid process of social evolution, I seem to have become a bona fide member of the counterculture. I look out from the redoubt and see the “challenge” swirling around it continually. No need to unlock the gate and let them in.
♦ Oh, since I am posting so sparsely these days, let me get this out of the way: Happy Mother’s Day.
♦ Tomorrow is also Ascension Sunday. Or, as Father Z rants about it, Ascension Thursday Sunday. Go on over and enjoy if you like this sort of thing (which I do).
♦ Speaking of rants, alert friends of the decanter may have noticed the absence here of complaints about tourons, a subject which in past years has consumed so much of Robbo’s thought. This is simply due to teh fact that I have been driving into work since last August instead of taking the metro, so just don’t have that much personal contact with them anymore. However, this change in commuting practice has not done away with the touron menace so much as transformed it into another shape. Yes, I’m talking about the dreaded tour busses. As the weather warms, these behemoths are starting to seriously jam up my afternoon drive. (And when it takes me an hour to go ten city blocks, I have every right to be cranky about it.) As a rule, I try to be a courteous driver – giving people room to merge in, for instance; stopping to let somebody pull out of a driveway. Not so with these busses, from which I use every method, legal or otherwise, to dodge, cut off or otherwise distance myself. Grrrrrrr…….
♦ And may I just remark here (perhaps again) on what a wonderful city car the Jeep Wrangler really is? Its small size, quick pickup and sweet maneuverability make it ideal for nipping in and out of traffic.
Well, I glance out the window and here’s the rain. Too bad. Everything was probably too wet to begin with anyway.
UPDATE: In re the low-information voter above, I should have noted that their next sentence would have been, “Hey, when do I get all my free shite?” ”Low-information voter” is one way to describe them, but I think “Bread-and-Circuses voter” is even more apt.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
No, this is not a bit of gratuitous bragging about the exploit of my own gels on the softball diamond.
Instead, because of tonight’s game between Robbo’s beloved Nationals and the Tigers of Detroit being postponed on account of the weathah, I thought I would fill in the time by giving my quick two cents on an issue of importance to a (definitively) very small and (questionably) select minority of friends of the decanter, that of the latest change in MASN’s “side-line” reporters¹ at the games.
(Maxy? NOVA Curmudgeon? Mike F? ChrisN? I think you guys are about it. The rest of you should feel free to ignore the rest of this post and go surfing somewhere else.)
I must say, first off, that I’ve always failed to see what these “sideline” reports bring to the broadcasts of the game other than giving the players a little face time with the teevee audience. No real information or insight ever comes out of them, the dialogue being of the most banal and canned variety of the sort practiced by Nuke LaLoosh at the end of “Bull Durham”. But then again, I’m not in the biznay, nor do I know anything beyond what I see. Is this is a League-wide broadcast industry standard?
Second, and perhaps germane to my first question, the “sideline” reporters are all women. Again, I’m not sure what the purpose is here. Is this some sort of Statement of Equality by the network? Or is it a cynical bit o’ gratuitous cheesecake? Or, given the fact that we’re talking about the confluence of Politicks and Big Media, perhaps some kind of combination of the two?
The world wonders. Or, really, not so much.
Anyhoo, the original MASN Nats Gal (if I may so call her) was the lovely and talented Debbi Taylor. Ol’ Robbo didn’t mind Debbi a-tall. While no knock-out, she was certainly easy enough on the eyes and seemed to be a good-natured sport about things: You wouldn’t mind running into her, say, at the school fundraiser Casino Night and spending half an hour shooting the breeze and gently (although, I hasten to add, innocently) flirting.
Debbi lasted (I believe) two or three seasons, only to vanish without a trace or, so far as I know, a goodbye. She was summarily replaced last year by Kristina Akra. Kristina was a completely different kettle of fish, being younger, brasher and more toned than Debbi. I suppose it’s arguable that Kristina was hawter (if you’re a 20 year old guy), but frankly, I never really cottoned on to her. Too hard. Too shallow. Too much the product of our current so-called “culture”. Too much the young gun who has the appearance that she will do whatever she needs to do (if you know what I mean and I think you do) to get to the top.²
At any rate, for whatever reason, Kristina was whisked up to the MLB heavens on a chariot after just one season, now apparently working MLB Network’s studio programming. Good luck to her, of course, but I’m really not unhappy to see her go.
As fond as he is of baseball in general and the Nats in particular, Robbo pays little or no attention in the offseason to the ins and outs of MASN programming decisions. So he was somewhat surprised when this season began to discover that MASN had yet another “sideline” reporter, one Julie Alexandria.
So far as surfacy impressions can go, Julie seems to be a marked improvement on Kristina, not having about her that same hardness of appearance or brassiness of voice. On the other hand, and maybe this is just a sign of Robbo’s age, she seems not to be quite old enough to have that same delightful soccer-mom vibe as Debbi did. Oh, well.
At any rate, Julie got her inaugural Gatorade shower t’other night. The gentlemen around the decanter are invited to judge for themselves.
¹ That’s not my term, it’s theirs.
² Emphasis here that this is totally an offering of opinion and not a statement of fact. My libel law practitioner friends are invited to stand down.
A bit of cross-talk from one of ol’ Robbo’s favorite movies:
Hysterium: Ruh! Buh! Whu!……
Hysterium: Er! Buh! Whu!…
Hysterium: Ooh! Buh! Whu!…
Pseudolus: Calm yourself! I’ll tell you when it’s time to panic!
Miles Gloriosus: I smell mischief here!
Pseudolus: [beat] It’s time.
Okay, it isn’t really. I hope. But after Robbo’s beloved Nats dropped their series opener against St. Lewee this evening by a score of 3-2, a game they really
could have should have won, thereby falling to a record of 10-9, well…..I confess I’m getting nervous.
I freely admit that I half fell into that breezy, delirious fandom trap wherein I dreamed the Nats would go 162-0 on the year. Okay, you folks know from past years that I’m no summah soldier, no sunshine patriot. Nor am I a baseball idjit. I know cruising to a repeat NL East championship is unrealistic. I know that it’s a different dynamic with everyone’s gunning for us this year. I know the season is young, that it’s only mid/late April.
This is the first year ol’ Robbo has really had to deal with Expectations. So you’ll forgive his heartburn, warranted or no. Having said that, allow me to blather:
The only starters that are producing are JZimm and National Det. Haren is looking more like an expensive lemon at every outing, and both Stras and Nat-Geo are floundering. The bullpen is starting to pick up, true, but what difference does that make if your starter blows it and you have positively no offense? The team seems to be possessed by a kind of malaise that I don’t understand. Good God Almighty, people! What the hell do you suppose you’re doing out there? Lollygagging?
Let’s just hope that skipper Davy Johnson, even as I post, is working his Big Magic to wake these guys up. Mr. Rogers-like happy talk or branding irons and the cat-o-nine-tails, I really don’t care which, so long as it works.
It was bad enough to be a laughing stock when we truly were a bad team and nobody expected anything else. After all the preseason hype, I don’t know how I will handle it if we become a laughing stock despite the fact that we’re a good team.
What a game. What a freakin’ game.
What else is there to do except say:
UPDATE: Second verse? Same as the first! Guys? That piece of wood in your hands? It’s called a “bat”. You use it to hit the ball. Try it some time. Just saying.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Ol’ Robbo seems to have shaken the bout of the blues that informed the post immediately below. It’s not that I don’t still believe any of my prognostications of doom. Rayther, I seem to have come back to that normal equilibrium of temperament that allows me to snap my fingers at the incoming wall of Numenor-foundering water with cheerful contempt.
Which allows me to bring up an utterly trivial matter.
The Nissan car company is one of this year’s sponsors of the MASN teevee broadcasts of Nationals baseball. (And just as an aside, you don’t know how much of a psychological relief it is that they spanked the Fish this evening after having been humiliated by the Braves over the weekend. I’m starting to take this game waaaaaay too seriously.) Anyhoo, in an ad that already has aired far too often this young season, the good people of Nissan flog one of their new models with, among other things, a claim that the featured automobile comes equipped with “NASA-inspired zero-gravity seats”.
My friends, I ask you candidly: Just what the good Godfrey Daniel is “NASA-inspired zero-gravity seats” supposed to mean?
The way-back machine in ol’ Robbo’s brain suddenly started humming and he was transported back to a treasured time of his misspent yoot in which he was instructed by a different car company to dream of reeech, Corinthean leatheeer…….
Nothing new under the sun, and all that….
Greetings my fellow port swillers!
Well, I think there can be no doubt that Spring has finally got her act together and begun operations in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor. There’s greenage on the trees, the bleeding heart in the front bed is in bloom and the windows are wide open. Also, today was the first day that ol’ Robbo had to pull out his mower and weed-whacker. Always a nice thing when they start right up after sitting idle in the garage all winter. (I would mention that I also put the hammock out today, but since I seem never actually to get the chance to use the durn thing, this is an annual milestone of much less actual importance.)
Of course, this being Spring means that the weather has turned schizophrenic, with temperatures yo-yoing all over the place and extremely fast-changing conditions. Indeed, Friday morning we had our first thunderstorm of the year. The middle gel and self were sitting in the ol’ Wrangler down to school, waiting for it to be time for her to go in for choir practice, when suddenly a bolt of lightning hit one of the towers above us. Scared the bejaysus out of both of us, I assure you.
This morning saw the annual parade and opening ceremonies of our local Little League. The opening pitches were thrown out this year by none other than Robbo’s beloved Nats’ right-fielder, Jayson Werth. (He and 1st baseman Adam LaRoche both have kids in the program.) For all his alleged ball-handling prowess, Werth managed to put two out of the three pitches into the dirt.
At any rate, as the “Star-Spangled Banner” was sung at the ballpark, I found myself musing sadly. It seems that every day the headlines become more and more horrible, filled with bread and circuses, bald-faced lies and behind-the-scenes Orwellian power-grabbing. There can be little question that we are and have been on social and economic paths that are simply unsustainable. (Of course, we’ve done this to ourselves through softness and lack of vigilance and our failure to drown all the Baby-Boomers in buckets at birth, and a lot of people still somehow don’t seem to understand how deep the trouble is that we’re in.) But now, I think, we’ve finally reached the point where it’s all coming to a head one way or the other.
Personally, I don’t believe that the country is actually doomed. What I think is going to happen is that those trying to finish up installing the Brave New World are going to overreach in a way that finally makes the citizenry wake up. (No, strike that. I actually think they already have. Now we’re just waiting for the math to catch up.) It’ll make ‘em wake up because it’ll hurt like hell. Collapse of the dollar? Food shortages? Riots a la Cyprus? Persecutions and scape-goatings? Oh, you betcha.
But you see, I also think there is something that sets up apart from late-Republican Rome or Paris in the Terror or early 20th Century Russia or Germany or, for that matter, Modern Europe. I think that although, as I say, we’ve got lazy and complacent, there is still a seed of autonomy and self-reliance in our national character. When push comes to shove, I think, I think, that we will remember what we’re made of. (You see that, for instance, in the public resistance against draconian gun-control. And the Tea Party.) It’ll be ugly, to be sure, but I believe that in the end we will come out intact on the other side, without either Caesar or Big Brother and hopefully wiser and stronger for the experience. (Do you know that I actually had a conversation with the Mothe a week or two ago about what the military would be likely to do in the event they were ordered to turn on trouble-making citizens? And that it was a conversation in earnest? We agree, by the bye, that it is extremely unlikely they ‘d cooperate in any such strong-arm tactics.) At least, that’s my hope and I’m sticking to it.
But as I say, I am saddened by all this. Not so much for myself, but for my children. I’m betting that the Crisis hits in the next five to ten years, right in the midst of their young adulthoods. I figure that I can face whatever comes with a kind of resigned stoicism and a sense that if I get caught in the crossfire, at least I’ve already had my turn. But it pains me to think about what they’ll have to go through when their world is turned upside down.
Ah, well. Better go jump in that hammock while I’ve still got the chance…..
Well, after my mini-hiatus (assuming it’s over) and the condolence/reminiscence post below that more or less wrote itself, I thought I’d try dipping the port swiller toe back in the water with a little bit of randomness. Here goes:
♦ After a very late dose of cold, Spring has finally and truly come to the environs of Port Swiller Manor. Today was the first day of the year that I took the top off the ol’ Wrangler. Spring and fall are, of course, the optimal times for this, the days of High Summah being too darn hot to lose all that valuable shade.
♦ I’ve decided that when we get our next cats, one of them is definitely going to be named Mr. Joyboy. There are few names in liddershur that make me snigger quite so much. Now all I need is a suitable companion name, since we’re probably going to wind up getting a couple. The leading candidate at the moment is Tobermory, although I fear that might be too phonetically similar and cause some feline confusion.
♦ We had a bit of a medical scare over the weekend at Port Swiller Manor that involved Mrs. R having to rush to the hospital for emergency surgery. All is well now and she is resting, but your humble host is in the doghouse just a bit for having dismissed the preliminary symptoms as nothing more than “too much Chipoltle”.
♦ Whoever it was who recommended to ol’ Robbo http://www.freetaxusa.com last year, thanks again. After my second year with it, I have to confess that it is superior to my flailing about with pencil, calculator and foolscap.
♦ Well, so much for Robbo’s beloved Nats going 162-0 this year, which is what I think we fans were secretly hoping/expecting.
♦ On the other hand, the youngest gel’s team is 2-0 after this past weekend’s battles. So we’ve got that going for us.
Enough to start?
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!
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
By the time those two or three of you together read this post, it will be time for ol’ Robbo to shut things down.
Wednesday – Tenebrae, complete with alter boys vigorously kicking the stuffing out of the pews….
Thursday – Mass of the Last Supper. Yes, there will be washing of feet. Problem?
Friday – Good Friday. The Passion. In Latin. ’Nuff said.
Saturday – Easter Vigil (at which ol’ Robbo marks his fifth year as a member of Holy Mother Church and thanks every single blessed minute since he swam the Tiber).
Sunday – Various activities only marginally connected with Robbo’s celebration of His Resurrection but nonetheless meaningful and obligatory. To wit, hearing the Middle Gel sing at the Cathedral and then tooling out to the Shenandoah Valley to Cousin C’s for Easter din-dins.)
Monday – The aftermath of Holy Week……. and opening day at Nationals Park. (No, we don’t have tickets. But the truth is that I’d rather watch it on teevee than slog down to the Park after all the fuss and bother of the previous few days. Anyhoo, it’s only the Marlins….)
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
♦ First, thankee to those of you who are still dropping in even though ol’ Robbo’s flow of quips and quibbles are hardly to be heard in flocks these days, and what he does post tends to be, shall we say, single-tracked. My site meter and I appreciate the little bumps.
♦ When last I dropped in I mentioned that hive of slimy, drippy hornets setting up shop in my nose? Well the whole thing blossomed into one of those 48 hour bugs that knocks one absolutely flat on one’s back. Tuesday morning I managed just enough energy around six ack emma to email into the shop and tell them I wasn’t going to make it to work. I then rolled over and took what I thought to be a mere fifteen minute power nap. However, when I looked at the clock again, it was nearly four in the afternoon. Yes, it was one of those. Much better now, fortunately.
♦ Anyhoo, today is the first day in which the Chair of St. Peter stands empty.
I confess that I honestly don’t feel the same degree of emotion as some of my friends and colleagues have expressed over this momentous state of affairs. I don’t think this has anything to do with the depth of either their sincerity of faith or with my own. Instead, I believe it’s the residual effect of still being a relatively new convert. While I can fully appreciate things on an intellectual level, my roots just don’t feel quite deep enough yet for me to fully take it in on a more, to keep the metaphor consistent, earthy level. If that makes any sense. (The suggestion that ol’ Robbo is, at heart, simply rayther a cold, emotionless fish is, of course, absolute tommyrot.)
Well anyway, there it is. I am, of course, praying that the Conclave of Cardinals pays close attention to the Holy Ghost in its choice of Benedict’s successor. He’s certainly going to have his work cut out for him.
♦ On a somewhat related note: T’other evening I found myself reading the last section of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. For those of you who might not recall, this is the part of the book where Lewis deals with the pitfalls of trying to get there. I often think of this part of the book as sort of the inverse of his Screwtape, i.e., a mirror image to the ease with which we can slide into damnation, and always find it quite as chilling in its own way.
At any rate, later on that evening I had a dream. In it, the Family Robbo was at what I took to be the Chinese Embassy. (Well, it was full of Chinese people, anyway.) We were there, apparently, so that Mrs. R could be honored with some kind of teaching award. We made our way into a grand banquet room which I recall contained a great many candles. On the tables there seemed to be a particular emphasis on bread and wine. Right in the middle of the room was the table of honor designated for us and for what I suppose were the grand pooh-bahs who would be presiding over the award-giving.
As we made our way to our table, the gels and Mrs. R fanned out and duly found their allotted seats. I, on the other hand, despite furious scanning about, could not find a place-card with my name on it. Finally, I looked up and noted that there were a few unreserved tables scattered in the corners of the room. A voice, perhaps Mrs. R’s, said that maybe I should just go sit at one of them.
Instead, I strode out of the room and into the hall in a huff. Mrs. R followed me out and tried to get me to come back in, but I was determined to skip dinner altogether and have myself a jolly good sulk.
And then, as they say, I woke up.
As the psychiatrist says of Basil Fawlty, “there’s enough material there for an entire conference”. But you knew that already. One friend suggested that perhaps it meant the Palies are right after all. To quote Daffy Duck, “HAR, har. Hardee-HAR-har.”
♦ So here we are, closing out the second week of Lent. After some initial flailing about, which I mentioned somewhere below, I think I’ve got my schedule of abstinences down pretty pat. However, the devil threw me a nasty breaking ball last evening. One of the things I’ve given up for the season is teevee. So what was on? Only the first broadcast spring training game of Robbo’s beloved Nationals, that’s all. I admit that I had to wrestle with swinging at that one a bit, fighting off all sorts of devious justifications for chasing a bad pitch just this once. I’m happy to say that I held out. Not even a check-swing.
In fact, Opening Day is Monday, April 1st, the day after Easter. I reckon I’ll enjoy watching that game all the more for sticking with my self-imposed discipline now.
In the shadow of other momentous headlines this morning, let us not forget that today is the day pitchers and catchers report. (Robbo’s beloved Nats actually kick off on Wednesday.)
Yes, the long, off-season drought is coming to an end.
Indeed, yesterday found Self and the youngest gel scrambling between church services to get over to the local gym, wherein were being held the annual spring softball tryouts for our local league. Despite the fact that, as happens every year, we failed to practice at all over the winter and were reduced to a last-second crash course of reviewing basic positions and technique in the basement Saturday evening, the gel did just fine throwing, catching, running and hitting.
The league is also offering a level of play for 13-16 y.o. girls this year, for which the eldest has signed up. She’s been out of the game for a few years but has shown some interest in trying out for her high school j.v. team. She reckons that she probably would not have made the cut this year owing to being so rusty, so thought it would be a good idea to play in this league for a season in order to get back up to speed.
The middle gel has also announced her intention to play softball at school this spring.
Ol’ Robbo’s going to be spending a lot of time hanging around various diamonds, most likely again in some sort of assistant coaching capacity. I can tell you even now that I’ll enjoy every minute of it. One of my proudest achievements as Dad has been to inculcate into all three gels a love of the game. Indeed, I’ve overheard all of them on more than one occasion telling friends with some heat that the reason the friends think baseball is boring is because they don’t understand it. Always brings a smile to the ol’ face.
Anyway, play ball!