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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:
Well, this evening saw the first softball practice of the Robbo Family Spring 2014 little league softball season, with the youngest gel’s Triple-A squad assembling for their inaugural meeting down the local elementary school diamond. I expect the eldest gel’s senior squad will hold their first practice very shortly as well. As has been the case the past few years, I will be contributing my little bit to the cause by serving as an assistant coach on both gel’s teams.
Counting Fall Ball and the Spring Season separately, a quick calculation on ol’ Robbo’s fingers indicates that this is his 14th half-season of coaching and/or managing gels’ softball in some capacity or other. I must say that at this point I still know next to nothing about the job, either in terms of teaching technique or in terms of what they call personnel management. But give me a leader who knows what he or she is about, and I flatter myself that I’m a pretty decent second fiddle. With that role I am quite content.
Still, what I love most about the experience is just being out at the diamond. There’s just a certain feel about the grounds, the weather and the whole attitude that appeals to me. Also, I love the repeated marvel of watching twelve random gels starting a season not knowing each other or their coaches from Adam but gradually coalescing into a genuine “team”.
As for the youngest gel, she’s the oldest player on her team and is somewhat hacked that she didn’t make Majors this spring. I have pointed out to her that she has no right to make Majors, but has to earn it, and that her try-out performance a couple weeks ago was somewhat, ah, lackadaisical. Perhaps the lesson was learned, because she was throwing the ball around mighty crisp this evening. Let’s hope it continues.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Recently, ol’ Robbo has been grumbling about the Port Swiller Manor coffee-maker, an old Mr. Coffee 12-cup that we have had at least eight or ten years now. I never learned to love it because it always was a very finicky machine. Unless conditions were to its exact liking, it would clog up and start spilling coffee out the top of the basket and all over the counter. It had been doing this more and more lately, despite my constant fiddling with the spring release to try and clear the flow path into the decanter. Hence my grumbling.
Well, today Mrs. R surprised me by bringing home a new Mr. Coffee, specifically a Model BVMC-SJX33GT. Unlike the old one, which was a boring monotone white, this is black with imitation chrome fronting. AND it has both blue and green indicator lights. How cool is that?
Indeed, the first thought that occurred to ol’ Robbo was that the thing looked like it had been designed for use aboard the Death Star. Various quotes started to wend their way through what passes for my braims:
“TK-421, why aren’t you on your coffee break?”
“Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of a good cup of café Cubano.”
“3PO, do you copy? Shut down all the coffee-makers on the detention level!!”
“I grow tired of asking so this will be the last time: Where is the Rebel Espresso Roast?”
And so on.
Yes, I am easily amused. Yes, it is probably just as well that nobody saw me standing in the kitchen for ten minutes, staring at the coffeemaker and chuckling to myself.
Anyhoo, Old Mr. Coffee was summarily given the heave-ho, and New Mr. Coffee installed in his spot. I look forward to the new regime.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Ol’ Robbo had one of his patented bizarro dreams last evening, doubtless from a combination of giving up the grape for Lent, thinking about obscure Augustine history references (see below) and being in the midst of reading Chesterton’s Manalive when he dozed off.
Anyhoo, I found myself at a lavish costume party held in some great ball room. There was no particular theme that I remember, but rather a large assortment of historickal figures. I, myself, was made up as Julius Caesar and wore an enormously elaborate tunic and toga. I especially remember how vivid the red and gold were.
As I say, there was no particular theme to the party. Nonetheless, I found myself trying to chat up a young lady dressed as a Roman matron. (I’m inclined to think she was a very young Jessie Royce Landis (which see) because I happened to watch “To Catch A Thief” not long ago and have always liked her style of lazy humor.) Every time I got going, however, some other fellah in Roman attire would try to horn in on us. These weren’t just random people, either, but celebs of the old school. I distinctly recall both Peter O’Toole and Charles Laughton among my rivals.
Somehow or other, it got to the point where we decided that the question of who was going to get the girl would be put to the vote of the Roman Senate. (By this point, the theme obviously had declared itself.) I found myself on the edge of a stage, listening to one of the other suitors arguing his claim and making a hash of it. Remembering Who I Was and determining that I could do a much better job than that, when my turn was called I strode out to center stage and, in a surprisingly clear and deep voice, made the following speech (as near as I can remember):
“Senators of Rome! I am a plain man and therefore will speak plainly to you! I deserve the girl above all these others here! Who among them has brought to Rome so much wealth and honor as have I? Who has been so successful in foreign wars? Who has ensured such domestic peace? None of them, I say! Therefore, as reward to me and as encouragement to others to emulate my efforts, give her to me!”
And then, as they say, I woke up. Dunno who won the vote.
After pausing here to let the feminist heads finish up exploding (All done? Good.), I will simply say I have no idea what any of this means. ’Twas a good dream, though.
UPDATE: Google reminds me that yesterday was the “International Day of the Woman”, whatever that may be. Derp!
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, from the heart of the latest SOTCOTW to strike the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor! If you like, you may imagine me, Jim Cantore-like, grimacing and sticking my chin and chest out in defiance of teh elements. I’ve not yet gone outside, so I can’t tell you anything for sure about totals, but it’s been coming down pretty steadily all day and I’d say we’re well over 6 inches.
As a matter of fact, the Family Robbo is just done with a late brunch of scrambled eggs, sausage and hash browns and I’ve toddled down to the study to check the radar and see how long it is before I have to go out and start shoveling. At the moment (about ten till one), it looks as if we’re into an especially heavy band that ought to go on for another hour or two, but that it will all clear out afterwards. Needless to say, a topic of intense speculation at brunch was whether tomorrow is going to be another snow day.
Anyhoo, in the meantime I guess I will go back to my reading, which is what I’ve been about most of the morning. I’m revisiting Bernard Cornwall’s Sharpe’s Rifles – the first of the Richard Sharpe series – and shuddering at it again. Cornwall, like Tom Clancy, is capable of excellent descriptions of combat, and indeed, some of his tactical portrayals are truly worthy of praise. But like Clancy, when it comes to character, dialogue and descriptive narrative, he’s bloody awful. Still, it’s dumb fun, which is exactly the sort of no-brainer stuff I want today.
POST-SHOVEL UPDATE: Seven or eight inches, I guess, with a lovely crust of ice underneath. Took me about three hours to clear, but it was light enough so that I got a decent workout without killing myself. We’re nowhere near passing the freezing mark, so for all the scraping and salting, the roads are still kind of meh. One gel’s school system has already bailed for tomorrow. We’ll see about the other two.
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!
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!
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
It is said that English is a Living Language, always ready to bend, fold, mutilate, mutate or transmogrify in order to meet the needs of the occasion. Back in school, I recall being taught that this is a Very Good Thing.
So I suppose that I am pleased, in once sense at least, with the addition to the vocabulary by members of the Port Swiller family of what I believe to be a brand new word or family of words.
Allow me to explain.
In my capacity as paper paterfamilias, I often find myself issuing instructions to the gels of the following variety:
“It’s almost time for dinner. Come downstairs and set the table, please.”
“You were supposed to clean out the kitty litter. Get TO it, please.”
“That laundry of yours is still sitting on our bed, waiting to be folded and put away. Get it done.”
“You’ve played enough Mine-Craft for one day. Turn off the computer and come upstairs.”
“Dammit, we’re going to be late, AGAIN. Get. In. To. The. Car.”
Well, you get the general theme.
At any rate, almost invariably in response to these and similar directions, the younger gels answer with the delaying-tactic imperative, “Hold on.”
This is where the liquidity of the Mother Tongue kicks in because they don’t, in fact, answer me with these two words but rayther have taken to serving up what I believe to be a unique hybrid.
So far, there seem to be several different permutations, all of which they utter in a kind of dismissive mumble. A phonetic sampling:
I’m not sure yet if there is any connection between choice of variant and context, whether for example one might be formal while another is more familiar, or whether this is just a bit of linguistic chaos common to the birth of a new form of expression. No doubt inevitable further exposure will give me some more refined insight.
At any rate, as I say, I try to derive whatever etymological pleasure I can from these utterances, because otherwise they drive me absolutely crazy.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
You may call ol’ Robbo “old school” – I’m sure you already call me much worse – but I for one prefer the celebration of Washington’s birthday to this generic chief executive tribute stuff. Old George surely merits his country’s eternal memory and thanks. Fellahs like Buchanan, Johnson, Wilson, Carter and, ah, others we need not name? Not so much. So for me, today really isn’t much other than a day off work.
♦ Robbo spent most of yesterday afternoon in his favorite chair overlooking the bird feeders, reading his Parkman and staring out the window from time to time. In the course of a couple hours, two different hawks blitzed the feeders. The youngest gel and I identified one of them as a Cooper’s Hawk. The other was immature. As I discovered from my Peterson’s Field Guide (always at hand), almost all immature hawks look exactly like each other. The only way to even guess at the subspecies is by the bird’s size. This one was pretty durn big.
Neither one was successful, by the way. The immature bird in particular spent several minutes perched on the roof of the porch looking extremely indignant.
♦ Speaking of which, I may have mentioned before the youngest’s interest in ornithology? She loves to show off her knowledge about comparative features – crests and caps, rounded vs. squared tails and the like. She recently asked me what schools had good ornithology programs.
“Well, there’s Cornell,” I said.
“Where’s that?” she asked.
“Upstate New York. It gets very, very cold.”
“Ummmm, I don’t think I’d like that. Anywhere else?”
Beats me. I suppose I ought to look into it.
♦ Another dose of snow/sleet is on the way tonight and tomorrow morning, although it looks like it’s just going to be a nuisance this time around. Then the temperatures are supposed to get up into the 60′s by the end of the week. I may say that I’ve had plenty of wintah, thank you very much. Moar warm, please!
I say this now so that, when I am being slowly parboiled over the summah and complaining bitterly about it, I can dig up this post and remind myself of what I will be missing.