seven elevenGreetings, my fellow port swillers!  And happy Feast of the Overpriced Convenience Store!

Sorry about the dearth of posties this week – it may be that ol’ Robbo’s brain has passed into the doldrums as it so often does this time of year.  At any rate, here are a few odds and ends to make up for it.

♦  I took advantage of a day off from work today to get an early start on my weekend yard work, my main task being to slap a coat of wood sealant on the inside surfaces of the porch posts.  (The outer surfaces are faced by some kind of weatherproof poly stuff but the other three are bare PTL.  They’ve been up for almost a year now and are nice and seasoned.)  For about 30 seconds or so I flirted with the idea of maybe staining them, but at the last regained my sanity and went with a clear sealant with a light gloss instead.   It turned out to be a much easier and faster job than I had originally feared, as I found I could easily get around the railing and other edges without all that tedious taping up biznay.

♦   While I was going about my task, I noticed something I had not known before:  A woodchuck will climb a chicken wire fence if it’s feeling greedy enough.

♦  The middle gel sang at a funeral down the Cathedral this morning for a woman whose son had himself been a chorister there many years ago and thought it would be a fitting thing for her, if any of the current crop were available and interested.  About a week ago, therefore, a request for volunteers went out and the gel, being the kind of gel she is, stepped up along with two or three others.  They sang Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desire.  I thought the gesture was really very, very sweet.

♦  One of Mrs. Robbo’s nieces is flying down from Baahston on Monday to spend a week with us and see the sights.  Yesterday, Mrs. R’s sistah sent her a copy of the gel’s plane ticket, on which Mrs. R noticed that her sistah had paid for two checked bags.  Mrs. R immediately got on the phone and said, “Look, I don’t do checked bags.  We’ve got a washing machine and, in an emergency, the gel can borrow whatever she might need from my lot.  Carry-on only.”  I thought that very amusing.

♦  Speaking of gels, within the past month or two, I have heard several very different women in very different geographical locations using the phrase, “get her big girl pants on” or “get her big girl britches on”.  Is this a thing?  It must have some common source, but I work so hard to disassociate myself from pop “culchah” that I just don’t know what this might be.

♦  And speaking of hearing things, one of the most chilling things I’ve heard in recent memory was a colleague of mine down the office this week using the expression “Brave New World” without irony.   Telephone call for Gods of the Copybook Headings.  Will the Gods of the Copybook Headings please pick up the white courtesy phone.  Thank you.

♦  Finally, speaking of Kipling, I am deep into P.C. Wren’s Beau Geste for the very first time.  I won’t review it here since I’m not done but I will say that I’m enjoying it very, very much.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Last evening ol’ Robbo popped in the latest new-to-me Netflix DVD, “In A World“.

The film is a quirky story about the fight to replace Hollywood legend Don Lafontaine as the top dog among movie preview voiceover specialists.  The story pits its protagonist,  a hipster-doofus underachieving voice-coach gal, against her second-fiddle father and his smarmy, disgusting, hot-shot protege.  The secondary plot involves the protagonist’s sister and her husband, in a walking-dead marriage, suddenly having to deal with a terrible misunderstanding.

My opinion?  Meh.

The film seemed somewhat thin.  Well, very thin, actually.  It didn’t go into much detail in terms of character development and left me with a fair number of questions about motives.  Also, the whole business with the surreptitious recordings was pretty contrived and unconvincing, and the near-rape “encounter” between the protagonist and the smarmy rival left me appalled my its amorality.

If you want a meaty story that combines a rich plot-line with the technical arcana of theatrical vocals, stick with “The King’s Speech“.

One out of five bumpers.

Next up, safe bet “The Guns of Navarone“.

And speaking of which, check out this video – via the Puppy Blender – of a firework display taken from inside by a drone-mounted camera.  My first reaction was to think that watching this would cause any veteran combat pilot to go into conniptions.   My second was to reaffirm my dislike of the hyper-intrusive nature of drone technology.  On the other hand, I must confess that the film is  both beautiful and fascinating.  Enjoy!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Independence Day!

Ol’ Robbo has so far celebrated the country’s birthday today by getting up at the crack of dawn to nip out to southwestern Pennsylvania to retrieve the younger gels from their summah camp.

On the way home this afternoon, cresting the various heights of the Allegheny, Blue Ridge and Catoctin ranges, we could actually see Hurricane Arthur on the far eastern horizon, a solid bank of cloud with smaller, darker strata scudding around its edges and that incredibly vibrant blue sky above which, I read somewhere, has something to do with the enormous amounts of ozone that a hurricane flings into the upper atmosphere.

Meanwhile, the wind has been whipping out of the northwest all day – straight toward the thing.  One could almost see the air being dragged in by that enormous low pressure vacuum.  These macro moments always give ol’ Robbo a bit of a shiver.

Just thought I’d share.

Anyhoo, I am now taking a break with the help of Dr. Pimm before I set about getting ready to grill burgers and dogs for a few friends we’re having over to Port Swiller Manor.  I gather the idea is for some of us to go on over to the local high school to see our municipal fireworks display afterward.   I hope all y’all have an equally festive day today!


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As ol’ Robbo made his way into the heart of Your Nation’s Capital this morning, he couldn’t help noticing that the security measures for this year’s Fourth of July celebrations had already started to be put in place.  The National Mall was absolutely swathed in chain-link fences and concrete barriers.

It struck me as ironic that the celebration of a holiday purported to be dedicated to the spirit of freedom and independence should involve turning the heart of Your Nation’s Capital into an open-air detention center.  Of course, what I saw was simply the hardware.  I can’t imagine the effect of these positions being fully manned by armed personnel, because I have no intention of being within miles of the place during the actual festivities.

If you detect a whiff of cynicism here, you aren’t far wrong because, mulling on the metaphoric value of this observation, it further struck me to wonder why on earth, given the current state of things, we even bother to celebrate the holiday any longer.   Sure, the fireworks and the cannon and the Sousa musick are all swell, but we seem to have forgotten the underlying values that they are supposed to be celebrating.



world endGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

Last evening, per the recommendation of one of you lot, ol’ Robbo sat down to watch The World’s End.

Somehow or other it had completely escaped me that this film was made by Edgar Wright, the same fellah who did Shaun of the Dead (which is also in my Netflix queue).  So I really didn’t know what to expect.

The set-up was fairly straightforward:  20 years after their graduation from school,  Gary King (Earth’s nearest equivalent to Zaphod Beeblebrox) reassembles his now respectable and prosperous mates to re-attempt an epic pub-crawl that they had failed to finish in their yoot in the sleepy little English town where they went to school.

Somehow or other, I thought this was just going to be a British buddy-romp, with lots of hijinks and the obligatory re-bonding/closure of long-supressed issues thrown in.

Which it was – and enjoyably so, I might add – until it suddenly – or as the MSM likes to say of bad economic news these days, unexpectedly – turned into Westworld, or perhaps The Stepford Hipsters.  Anyway, there were robots.  Lots of ‘em.  Not that these other themes  disappeared, mind you.  Rayther, they continued to work themselves out while at the same time the protagonists were getting chased about by alien-crafted robots in a lead up to the Apocalypse.  Or something.

I think that if I were about twenty or thirty years younger than I am, this genre probably would appeal to me a lot more than it does.  ( I hit the big 5-0 in January.)   Fact of the matter is that while I find I can remain loyal to teh SciFy of my misspent yoot (which see the gratuitous Zaphod reference above),  I really can’t find much enthusiasm for things I’m seeing for the first time now that I’m older. (The single exception to this is Firefly, which I only got into about four years ago, but is really more of a space western than anything else.)

So I thank whoever recommended this film.  I still intend to watch Shaun, and maybe it will be different because I already know it involves zombies.  But I have to say that The End of the World didn’t really rock mine.

Call it two bumpers out of five, but remember that I’m rapidly becoming that grumpy old coot telling the kids to git off’n my lawn.

Next up (although not tonight, because I’m going to watch my beloved Nats WITH the return of Bryce Harper), In A World, the story of a girl trying to break into the movie-trailer voice-over racket in the shadow of her highly-successful father.   I hope it doesn’t get too Gawd-help-us.

CoriolanGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

Pace Cole Porter, I couldn’t resist the post title because last evening ol’ Robbo kicked off his annual Bachelor Week by watching Ralph Feinnes’ 2011 production of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus.  (Go here for a synopsis of the story, which the Bard is supposed to have pinched from a translation of Plutarch.)

I will confess that, despite having concentrated on Shakespeare as a college English major, I have never read this play nor seen a performance of it before.  Indeed, aside from being aware of its bloody reputation, my only previous encounter had been a still photo of Laurence Olivier playing the part, being held upside down by his ankles and covered in gore.  (Oh, and as a complete aside, Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture is, IMHO, one of his best bits of incidental musick, although it has nothing to do with the Bard’s play.)  So my opinion probably isn’t worth all that much.

Nevertheless, I believe the film was, on balance, worth a dekko, and I raise a glass to whomever of you recommended it.

On the plus side, the play itself is classic tragedy.  Coriolanus (if you haven’t clicked the link yet) is a noble hero of the young Roman Republic, having devoted his life to her wars against both her Etruscan oppressors and neighboring cities.  By every right, he ought to be propelled to the highest offices and receive the highest accolades, but his Patrician pride and his refusal to kiss the collective backsides of teh Roman mob drive him to his eventual undoing.   You will seldom see a better teeing up of the ancient Grecco-Roman literary concept of hamartia, the Tragic Flaw.  Furthermore, with Feinnes himself as the glowering Coriolanus, Gerard (“SPAAAARTAAAANSSS!!!”) Butler as his arch-enemy Aufidius, and Vanessa Redgrave (yes) as his mother, Volumnia, you’ve got a solid core of actors who actually know what to do with the Bard.  (Most of the extras seem to be Jugs of one sort or another with names ending in -jovic and -jevick.)

On the minus side, the play is set in modern times, something which regular friends of the decanter will know generally displeases ol’ Robbo.  (Indeed, I suppose the point Feinnes was after was to make it look like an episode out of the recent unpleasantness in the Balkans, which would explain the ethnic make-up of the extras.  The comparison to the history of early republican Rome is not completely illegitimate.)  So instead of men running about with plumed helmets and swords, you get men running about with body armor and modern weaponry plus lots of stuff blowing up.  I suppose I could live with that.  What I didn’t like was the accompanying modern media portrayal of war – complete with nooz flashes, punditistas (including a Bill O’Reilly lookalike) and video cameras everywhere.  There’s where your “relevant” setting drifts across the line to annoying distraction.  On the other hand, I thought the scenes of parliamentary maneuvering – especially the bits featuring the Tribunes – the “crows to peck the eagles” – who were out to hocus Coriolanus for being such a shhhnob- were really quite effective.

Finally, the film is shot in that bobbly, hand-held style so fashionable these days that tends to give ol’ Robbo something of a headache, particularly when, as was the case last evening, he is weighed down to the Plimsoll mark with wiener schnitzel and potato pancakes.

All in all, though, I’ll give this film two and a half bumpers out of five.

Next up,  The World’s End.

UPDATE:  I was chatting with teh Mothe this afternoon about this fillum and she remarked that since Schindler’s List she simply can’t bear to watch Feinnes.  I admitted I’ve never actually seen it, as I am too much of a coward.  Same deal with Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.  I dunno how I would respond to the Real Thing, but my tolerance for, well, Screen Evil is pretty durn low.

Beau-Geste-2-739297Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Several times in the past week or two, ol’ Robbo has come across the name of author P.C. Wren in his readings.  As regular friends of the decanter may know, it is a practice of mine to pay attention to what I like to think of as these little cosmic hints.  As summah time is now O-fficially upon us, and as I’ve never actually read any of Wren’s books before, it occurred to me that I ought to follow up.  Thus, a quick trip to the devil’s website and I now have Beau Geste and Beau Sabreur winging their way toward Port Swiller Manor.

I’ll let you know what I think of them.  As Wren is appreciated and admired enjoyed by the sort of people I appreciate and admire, I expect to enjoy them myself thoroughly.

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, after the Washington Redskins kerfluffle that made the nooz last week, I wasn’t especially surprised to see this headline this afternoon:  Native American group planning $9 billion lawsuit against the [Cleveland] Indians.  According to the article, an outfit called “People Not Mascots” objects both to the “Indians” name as well as to the team mascot, Chief Wahoo.  “We’re going to be asking for $9 billion and we’re basing it on a hundred years of disparity, racism, exploitation and profiteering,” [group leader Robert] Roche told WEWS-TV. “It’s been offensive since day one. We are not mascots.  My children are not mascots.  We are people.”  


All I can say is that if we are now going to subject our sports teams’ mascots to a general purge based on offensensitivity, can we make sure and include this one?  It gives me an unhappy:

Phanaticus Delenda Est

Phanaticus Delenda Est














Of course, this sort of thing is making headlines at the moment because Lefty bullying is in fashion and because the MSM is in full “SQUIRREL!!” mode trying to attract Low Information Voter attention away from the truly appalling foreign, domestic and, yes dammit, Constitutional crises in which we find ourselves.  (I was trying the other evening to find an apropos equivalent to “Bread and Circuses”. The best I could come up with was “Smoothies and Kardashians”.  You might have better luck.)

In the end, though, I doubt if much comes out of any of it.  (The threatened suit, I mean.)  The Press will spot some other squirrel and the matter will be quietly dropped.  Either that or we will be fighting each other over $1000 loaves of bread or fleeing “dirty” bomb terrorist attacks and won’t have time to think about it.

Nonetheless, just to hedge my bet, I nipped over to the devil’s website and bought a copy of “Major League” this evening.  You know, just in case the film is suddenly disappeared.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ever notice how all those bumper stickers reading “Question Authority” and “Dissent is the Highest Form of Patriotism” which used to be so prevalent on the backs of Volvos and Priuses  seem of have disappeared?  Me, too.

I believe the new attitude among the people who used to trumpet such sentiments is, “Shut up, bitchez!”


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