IrishRM-picPg136-BGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

Long time friends of the decanter may recall in the past ol’ Robbo going on from time to time about his fondness for the three volumes of short stories by E.O. Somerville and Martin Ross, Some Experiences of an Irish R.M. (1899), Further Experiences of an Irish R.M. (1908) and In Mr. Knox’s Country (1915), now known collectively as The Irish R.M.  They tell the story of Major Sinclair Yeats, ex-British Army, who takes up a position as a Resident Magistrate in the wilds of Southwestern Ireland around the turn of the 20th Century and finds himself dealing with the idiosyncrasies of the locals.  Much hilarity ensues.  Indeed, Somerville and Ross, members of the Anglo-Irish gentry themselves, delighted in noting the contrasts between their class and the native culture, often with much sympathy towards the latter.

I’ve read these stories dozens of times and never get tired of them.  In preparation for tackling the gloom and doom of Solzhenitsyn, I thought I would run through them again just by way of cleaning my palate.  This time around, though, thanks to the miracles of modern technology, I find myself not only enjoying the stories but also doing a bit of what one might call geographical detective work, too, trying to figure out specifically where some of them might have taken place.

Well, okay, I’ve simply been messing around with Google Earth.  But I think I’ve figured out a thing or two.

For instance, I’m almost positive that the principle town in the stories, called Skebawn, is actually a place called Skibbereen, the farthest southwest town of any size in County Cork.  (I’m not the first to draw this conclusion, by the way.)

Major Yeats and his family live in Shreelane, a country house which we know is within bicycling distance of Skebawn.  We also know that the shimmer of the sea can be seen behind the hills when one stands on the roof of Shreelane.  We further know that one can hear the Fastnet gun away to the southwest warning off shipping during foggy weather.   So I’m pretty sure it’s somewhere to the south of Skebawn, perhaps in the Curravally district.  (There is a Curranhilty district which plays a part in some of the stories which may be a play on this name, by the bye.)  Another clue is that it is within walking distance of what is called Corran Lake in the stories and what I think is really Lough Hyne.  Not only is said lough connected with the sea like Corran Lake, it also holds a small island (two, in fact) that would account for said lake’s Holy Island in the story of that name.

Speaking of the story “Holy Island”, it tells of a shipwreck on what is called Yokahn Point and of the anarchy that breaks out as the result of barrels of rum being washed ashore on Tralalough Strand.  I believe these places are modeled on the real-life Gokane Point and Tragumna Strand.  They’re both immediately to the east of Lough Hyne and within carriage-driving distance of where Shreelane would stand.

Speaking of Shreelane, there actually is a Shreelane district to the east-northeast of Skibbereen, from which I’m sure Somerville and Ross borrowed the name for the house, but which is too far away from the sea to fit with the narrative description.  On the other hand, it might be the location of Temple Braney House, seat of the horrible McRory family.  I say this because there is a series of small, interconnected lakes associated with Temple Braney in one of the stories and this district sports just such an aquatic feature, the Shreelane Lakes.

I haven’t placed other important points so far.  Tory Lodge, home of Mr. Florence McCarthy “Flurry” Knox, is said to be an hour or two’s walk over teh hills from Shreelane and the sea is visible from its terrace.  Aussolas Castle, home of Flurry’s grandmother Mrs. Knox, is some little distance away, but it’s unclear which direction.  Castle Knox, home of Flurry’s distant cousins the Sir Valentine Knoxes, is near enough to Aussolas that a fox can be chased from one to the other in a morning’s hunt.   I also can’t place Drumcurran, a secondary town in the Curranhilty country in which some scenes are played.

Later, if I’m able to get a reliable map in my head, I may strike out further afield and try to track down the secluded lair of Lord and Lady Derryclare, the chicken-farm of Meg Longmuir and Dr. Cathy Fraser and the Lug-Na-Coppal copper-mines formerly presided over by the late Mr. Harrington.

Anyhoo, I know that Somerville and Ross were just liberally borrowing rayther than trying to give accurate if disguised portrayals.  Still, it’s lots of fun to try and figure out what they were thinking when they put together the geographical boundaries of Major Yeats’ stage.

 

 

older-columbusGreetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Columbus Day!

I noted this morning the Puppy-Blender’s recommendation of Samuel Eliot Morrison’s outstanding Admiral of the Ocean Sea:  A Life of Christopher Columbus.  Indeed, I believe it was his recommendation of this book a year or two ago that prompted me to buy and read it.  You should, too.

This afternoon, while she was driving me up to the store, teh Eldest Gel asked me why so many people seem to treat Columbus Day as a Bad Thing.  “Because they’re uneducated, preening morons,” I cheerfully replied.

What else is there to say?  Ol’ Robbo is sick and tired of the idiocy.

(Actually, I did say a bit more, explaining to her the myth of the Noble Savage and the corrosive effect its false sentimentalization has on historickal clarity.  I think she got it.)

By the bye, I have a map of the United States in my office (on which I mark cities to which I’ve travelled for biznay with pins). Way down in the lower right corner sits the island of San Salvador, where Columbus first landed.  I always feel a little bit of an historickal shiver when I look at it and contemplate his fleet coming in from off the edge of the map.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is shocked, shocked at the depth of corporate duplicity in the decaying West and is thankful that at least a handful of legal vultures champions of teh Little Guy are still doing their best to fight it:  $13 million lawsuit proves Red Bull doesn’t give you wings.

Benjamin Careathers, a regular consumer of the fizzy drink, sued the company for false advertising, arguing that after 10 years drinking Red Bull he neither had wings nor any enhanced athletic or intellectual performance.

According to the complainant, the Austria-based firm deliberately misled unsuspecting customers to spend millions of pounds on the premium drink in the hope of gaining an edge on their competitors.

To be perfectly fair, it seems from the balance of the article that most of the claim has to do with allegations regarding claims of “enhanced athletic or intellectual performance”.  I’d have thought that anybody with an IQ breaking double digits would be able to figure out that a combination of caffeine and carbonation isn’t going to do much enhancing in said areas, but that’s just me.   I believe it was H.L. Mencken who observed that nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.

Anyhoo, let’s go to the math:

Drinks giant Red Bull GmbH must pay $13m to settle the suit, $6.5m of which will go into a fund that will be paid out to an estimated 1.4 million consumers, who can apply for the refund through a specially created website.

That $6.5 mil is estimated to work out to about $10 per “victim” although higher demand might cause this figure to drop since the pool is finite.  That leaves, by ol’ Robbo’s math, another $6.5 mil.  Anybody care to guess who gets that?  Anybody?  Anybody? Bueller?

By the way, ol’ Robbo really rayther liked some of the Red Bull teevee ads, which tended to be witty.  On the other hand, he has only actually sipped the stuff once.  It’s vile.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Nats HatWell, on further reflection ol’ Robbo doesn’t have much to say about his beloved Nats’ elimination in teh first round of the playoffs.   He could point out that each of our three losses to the Giants was by a single run and that two of them arguably were the direct result of rookie manager pitching decision mistakes (the first one questionable, the second one insane).  He also could point out that the Nats had the best National League record during the regular season, and could argue that a team’s results over 162 games are far more demonstrative of its quality than said team’s results over any four games.   But nobody would listen.   All anybody cares about post-season (and, arguably, for any given season) is who advances and who goes home.   At this point?  I really don’t even care anymore, but am thinking ahead to what is likely to happen over the off-season and into next spring.  (My prediction?  Not much.  LaRoche is likely done at 1st so that we can bring Ryan Zimmerman back into the starting lineup, Soriano is gone, but most of the rest of the team stays, I think, pretty much as it is.  Oh, and I’m calling it Right Now:  We win next year.)

Regular friends of the decanter will tolerate ol’ Robbo going through the math here because they understand that this is only the second post-season venture in his nearly 50 years in which he’s had a genuine vested interest.  (I grew up in a non-baseball town and could never consider myself more than an interested sympathizer for any team until the Nats came to Dee Cee in ’05.  How lucky are the Gels, by the bye, that they get to experience all of this in their yoot.)   I must say that I find the experience…….bittersweet.

Anyhoo, it’s over and done and I now can turn my attention to other things, such as the fact that the Great Post-Flood Port Swiller Manor Basement Renovation of 2014 is almost complete! (A mere two months after the original disaster, but who’s counting?) Flooring (Pergo or its equivalent) went in yesterday, baseboards were tacked on today and now pretty much all that’s left is the bathroom fixtures and some wiring.   In fact, the Former Llama Military Correspondent and his lovely family are coming in this weekend for an overnight stay and I had been fretting the past week or so about where on earth we were going to put them all.  Thanks to this week’s work, the basement is now at least habitable.  This gives ol’ Robbo a happy.

If you’d like me to post pics of the finished product, let me know.   (I’ve never been able to decide whether that sort of thing is looked on favorably by readers or is considered showing away.)

Final observation:  Last evening I watched Enemy at the Gates, the 2001 dramatization of the duel between a Russian and a German sniper (based  somewhat, I believe, on “actual events”) during the Battle of Stalingrad, that I almost automatically think of as Saving Private Ivan.  I’ve seen this movie maybe three or four times and still cannot quite put my finger on what makes it an okay flick but not really a good one (even though it features the lovely and talented Rachel Weisz, which fact alone ought to carry it).

hoskins krushchevOne positive thing I forget each time and am delighted to rediscover is Bob Hoskins as Khrushchev.  I love how he continually refers to Stalin as “duh Boss”.  This is exactly right.  Uncle Joe was as much as or even more of a thug than was Hitler.  Appallingly, the typical Modern, to the extent they have even heard of WWII, thinks the Soviets and the Nazis were diametric opposites.  The truth, of course, is the reverse.  Fascism and Communism (and, I may add, Progressivism and, for that matter, the Mafia) are close cousins, all of which argue for the sacrifice of individual freedoms to the alter of collective, centralized authority and for the elimination of said individuals who either can’t or won’t comport with the Plan.

 

10420This reminds me that I’ve never read Solzhenitsyn but have been meaning to the past few years.  Any friends of the decanter have any suggestions on the best place to start?  Ol’ Robbo would appreciate such tips greatly.  From what I gather, it’s not so much of a stretch to call the man a Saint.   And yet, after all he’d been through under the Soviet regime and all the effort he had put forth to speak (if I may) Truth to Power, he is these days a hissing and a byword among those who claim to champion liberalism.   (This is just one of the million and one reasons, or perhaps more accurately one of the million and one pieces of evidence of the general reason, why ol’ Robbo detests Leftists.)

 

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

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

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

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

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

Nats HatGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

I ain’t HEARD no Fat Lady!” **

The Gels and I caught the last half of the game via the Middle Gel’s laptop while sitting around the kitchen table.  A good time was had by all even though I’m still dubious about this .eu website streaming the feed and half expected the NSA to knock at the front door.

Anyhoo, what a great (and to me surprising) move by Matt Williams to put Drew Storen in to close!  After Saturday night’s blown save, I worried that poor Drew’s confidence might be completely shattered.  Good on Matt to get him right back on the horse.  (I was also impressed  in general that Williams didn’t panic and start tinkering with the line-up.)

So.  We live another day.  Deep breath and on to tomorrow.  What else is there to say except

GO, NATS!!!

 

**Spot the quote.

UPDATE:  Maxy got it:

I will confess that I don’t plan to stay up this evening to watch Game 4 but will wait until the morning to find out whether my beloved Nats are bringing the series back home.   Fact of the matter is that during the week I get up at 4:45 ack emma, as I am point man for the whole Port Swiller Family morning routine, and I simply can’t deal with West Coast games and expect to function.

I will say that no matter what happens tonight (and without any intent to cause affront to the baseball gods I will say that I am not entirely un-optimistic), I am damn proud of the boys for not rolling over yesterday as they so easily could have done.   That’s what makes champions.  So, what else is there to say except

GO, NATS!!!!

 

Washington-Nationals1Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is extremely disappointed that his beloved Nats dropped their first game against the Giants yesterday.  Frankly, he’s also quite worried.  You see, for the second game later this afternoon the Giants are sending Tim Hudson.  He gave the Giants their only two wins against the Nats during the regular season and he’s also a wily old veteran with lots of post-season experience.

On the other hand, Hudson talked some smack against the Nats earlier this week, something generally frowned upon by the baseball gods.  Perhaps they’ll express their displeasure tonight.

We’ll see.  All I can say is that I think this evening’s game IS the post-season:  If we go out to San Francisco two games in the hole, I simply can’t see us scrapping back to win the next three straight.

UPDATE:  Heartbreaker.  The realist in me says that’s the season right there.  Dayum, do I love/hate October baseball!

Incidentally, teh Eldest Gel and I watched the game (well, until the 12th anyway) on her laptop via a Brit (I think) live-stream of the Fox Sports feed interspersed with a lot of rugby football commercials.  It might have been legitimate, except that the site name was something like “draculanet.eu”.

“How did you ever find this,” I asked her.

DA-AAD!!” she replied, “This is what kids do!”

Whippersnapper.  Get off my lawn.

Well, as to the trip out west, what else is there to say except

GO, NATS!!!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Waiting around for the dew to dry up a bit before mowing the lawn this morning, ol’ Robbo finds himself sampling a track recommended by the Middle Gel, who is a huge fan of the Piano Guys.

“Evolution”  – There’s that word again.  Just the other day I believe I was ranting here about the whiggish implication in its use that Newer means Better.  When teh Gel told me about this video,  which (if you aren’t going to click it) is a mash up of the principle Batman themes going back to the old 60’s teevee series, I could not resist pointing out that the only real Batman among them all was, of course, the legendary Adam West.  (Okay, I’ll also give you Olan Soule, who voiced Batman on the old Super Friends cartoons.  BTW, did you know that Ted Knight was the narrator for those shows?)  In my opinion, once an actor and a role have reached a certain level of association, it becomes downright heretical to let somebody else play the part.  See Kirk, James Tiberius.

Not that I’ve really paid any attention to Batman’s later manifestations – I never saw any of the Dark Knight movies, for instance.  All of this fantasy/sooperhero stuff that seems so en vogue these days strikes me as extremely juvenile.  (Ducks.)

As for the musick?  Eh, it’s a nice sound and I can see why teh Gel likes these guys.  At her age, I probably would have, too.  But you know what Paul says about thinking as a child.**  These days, the stuff is really too fluffy for my taste.  (Ducks again.)

 

** [Ed. - Um, you put up a picture of a guy sitting on a potty in the post just below this one.]

UPDATE:  Aaaaand, in before the rain!

 

davebarry03Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sorry for the light posting this week.  The bug that has been wandering around Port Swiller Manor recently finally decided to pay me a personal call.  It’s an odd one this time.  One minute you say to yourself, “Self, I think I’m getting better!”  The next, your head suddenly feels ten pounds too heavy, your entire body aches, you break out in a sweat and your knees threaten to fold the wrong way.

Rinse and repeat.

Anyhoo, I’ve spent most of the past 56 hours, at least the ones in which I’ve been awake, rereading a stack of old Dave Barry books, of which I have 6 or 7.  (Today it was Dave Barry Turns 50 and Dave Barry in Cyberspace.) It’s been a while since I last clapped eyes on any of them and, while it might just be the ‘flu talking, I must say that while I’ve always liked his stuff, ol’ Dave is a hell of a lot funnier than I remember.

Just thought I’d throw that out there.

By the way, Wandering Bug would be a pretty good name for a rock band.

UPDATE:  Long-time friend of the decanter Cap’n Ned brings up an important (and I suppose apropos, given the pic of Dave I chose) issue,  that of appropriate bathroom reading.

This is a subject to which ol’ Robbo has dedicated some study over the years.  What is it that makes a given book appropriate to the library of the loo, the bibliotheca of the bog, the repository of the depository, the athenaeum of the ass-can?  (I’m so very sorry about that last one but I needed a closer.  If you imagine Robin Leach saying it, it’s not so bad.)

Well, I’ll tell you.  Said book must be both granule and lightweight.  It must be something on which you can nibble at will, taking it and leaving it as suits your biznay.  At the same time, it must be something for which less than full concentration is required, IYKWIMAITYD.   So both War and Peace and Quotations of Chairman Mao are right out.

Of course, the downstairs W/C at Port Swiller Manor has its own basket of reading materials.

As a sort of substratum, said basket always contains the latest alumni magazines from our various schools, together with copies of the local fish-wrapper and of Modern Luxury: DC magazine, which continues to show up in our mailbox despite the fact that we’ve never subscribed, much less shown any interest in it.

The real meat, though, is in the books.

Before sitting down to type out this update, I stepped into the downstairs W/C and rummaged around the reading basked in order to ascertain the current Port Swiller reading list and see if it complies with ol’ Robbo’s criteria.  It includes:

- Two compendia of Calvin & Hobbes cartoons;

- Two compendia of FoxTrot cartoons;

- Several volumes of Down East humor by noted Down East humorist John McDonald, including his Maine Trivia: A Storyteller’s Useful Guid To Useless Information; his A Moose and a Lobster Walk Into A Bar; and his Maine Dictionary (also the Boston Dictionary by John Powers, the success of which caused the publishers to hustle McDonald into producing the Maine version);

- The Devious Book for Cats, which styles itself as a parody but which is actually too close to the truth to be funny and is really rayther depressing;

- An evolution of the Darwin Awards; and

- James Lileks’ Mommy Knows Worst.  

I may admit that the last one is my current favorite, and it surprises me that no one has asked any questions about why Dad is locked in the loo, giggling, snerking and snorting.

Now certainly, as Ned suggests, Dave Barry would qualify for inclusion in a reading list of this sort based on substance.  The problem is that the guy is prolific, having something north of forty titles to his name.   Were I to introduce one or two of his books to the loo basket, pretty soon it would be three or four.  And then six or eight.  And then a round dozen.  At that point,  I’d start talking about a need for more space, perhaps a series of shelves, in which to deposit all of Dave’s words.  And in a bathroom?  That’s too weird for me.

No, at least at Port Swiller Manor, Barry gets confined to what I call the Bookcases of Misfit Authors.   These are the ones down the basement to which ol’ Robbo bans books that he deems not appropriate for his “library proper”.  At the moment they’re all sitting in stacks scattered about the house and awaiting the post-flood restoration of said basement which the contractor promises is less than two weeks out now, but once that’s done, they’re going back downstairs where they belong.

 

 

Nats HatBumpers all round for Robbo’s beloved Nationals, who not only won their final game of the regular season this afternoon, but did so via the mighty arm of Jordan Zimmerman, who threw the first no-hitter of the franchise’s latest permutation.  And the final out was recorded in spectacular fashion by rookie outfielder Steven Souza, Jr.  Click on over to see the clip.  You won’t regret it.

What a finish.

So the Nats won a total of 96 games this year and are spiking as they go forward into the playoffs.  Out of curiosity, ol’ Robbo tracked down his predictions for the team made back in March.  Here you go:

On the basis of nothing but my gut, I will predict this: Robbo’s beloved Nats win something between 90 and 95 games during the season and take teh NL East championship. (Suck it, Atlanta!) We will, by hook and crook, scuff our way through to bagging the NL Championship and will go to the Series. What we do there? I just don’t know. So, there.

As it turns out, I was actually a bit too conservative.  And we didn’t scruff our way in, we steamrolled.

Next stop, October.  What is there to say except

GO, NATS!!!

UPDATE:  Oh, hells, Momma ain’t gonna click through.  Here you go:

http://m.mlb.com/wsh/video/topic/8877508/v36687991/?c_id=was

 

 

Blog Stats

  • 400,167 hits
October 2014
M T W T F S S
« Sep    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.