Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo has, from time to time, spoken here of his fondness for the three sets of short stories of E.E. Somerville and Martin Ross known collectively as “The Irish RM”.  They are first-person accounts of the adventures of Anglo-Irish Major Sinclair Yates in his role as Resident Magistrate in the southwest of Ireland round about the turn of the 20th Century.  In Ol’ Robbo’s humble opinion, they are comic masterpieces.  (They are also said to have been some of Queen Victoria’s favorite travel reading.)

Ol’ Robbo first became acquainted with these stories back in the mid 80’s, when his then-girlfriend gave him a copy of a newly-printed paperback collected edition that came out in conjunction with a teevee dramatization of them by the Beeb, starring the great Peter Bowles as Major Yates.  (I will say nothing here about the teevee series except to reiterate my firmly-held belief that one cannot really successfully dramatize a first-person narrative because the value is not just in the story itself, but also in how the speaker tells it.  (See also Wooster, Bertie.)

Anyhoo, I picked up the book again this week.  The cover has long since fallen away, the spine is broken, and chunks of pages are now coming loose.  Nipping over to the devil’s website, I found that new copies of this same edition are now available where they had not been before.  The only trouble?  They cost fifty bucks a throw.

I gulped a bit, but eventually hit the “place order” button.  Yes, I’m that much of a fan.

Incidentally, I’ve also been doing a bit of detective work this week.  The fictional town closest to Shreelane, Major Yates’ house in the books, is called Skebawn.  I’m reasonably certain, based on various geographical clues let drop here and there, that it is modeled on the actual town of Skibbereen, County Cork.  One of Ol’ Robbo’s once-I-retire-and-have-the-time projects will be to try and further suss out other connections between Somerville and Ross’s fictional settings and actual ones.

Anyway, if you haven’t read these stories, I heartily recommend them.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Mrs. Robbo and I had a long, but very pleasant day yesterday as we travelled down to The Homestead resort to hear Middle Gel perform with her All-State Senior Honors Choir, which I bragged about her auditioning into a few weeks back.  (Yes, this is going to be one of those Proud Dad posts.)

The Homestead, in case you’re not familiar with it, is a big place situated way down yonder near the West Virginia border and absolutely inconvenient to get to from just about any other point in the Great Commonwealth of Virginny.  After slogging through several hours of interstate traffic, you’ve still got another hour plus of mountainy backroads in order to get there.  It’s very scenic, but still…..

Actually, Mrs. R and I had been there once before.  Nearly twenty-five years ago and just a couple months before our wedding, we spent the weekend attending a state bar conference (back when I thought such things important).  My only recollection of that earlier trip was of Mrs. R humiliating me on the tennis court when we found ourselves on opposites sides of the net during a mixed doubles tourney she had talked me into.  (I was a mere weekend duffer.  She was varsity captain in college.)  Nonetheless, it definitely felt odd returning after all that time to see Middle Gel do her thing.

As for the concert, it was presided over by an egomaniacal little sparkplug of a man who spooled the thing out to about twice its length otherwise with a series of autobiographical anecdotes, one-liners, and crowd-participation exercises.  As time went on, I could see the smiles on the choristers’ faces definitely beginning to become rayther frozen.

The musick, though extremely well done, really wasn’t the sort Ol’ Robbo enjoys.  They started with Moses Hogan’s “Every Time I Feel The Spirit”, to which Ol’ Robbo usually adds sotto voce, “I Want To Slit My Wrists”.  Next was a bit by Britten, whom the Gel likes a lot but I’ve always put in the “Meh” category.  (I have a theory that there’s a different scale, as it were, of enjoyment between performing a work and just listening to it.)  Then we got “Father William” by Irving Fine.  It’s a setting of text from Alice in Wonderland, and I actually found it rather amusing.  UPDATE: The gel informs me that I am mistaken about Britten.  She likes his “Festival of Carols” but thinks a lot of his other work is “weird”.

This was followed by the Randall Thompson “Alleluia”, which is actually a favorite of the Gel’s from back in her Cathedral days.  Before they began, however, the Sparkplug went into a long, gooshy monologue about lost loved ones, and invited the audience to call out anyone’s name for whom they thought the “Alleluia” would be an appropriate tribute.  Ol’ Robbo hates this sort of thing.  I came near to saying, “All the souls in Purgatory” just to spike him, but thought better of it at the last moment.

Then it was the second movement of Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms.  Ol’ Robbo loathes Bernstein on all levels, personal and musickal.  (I thought Tom Wolfe got him absolutely bang-o right in his essay “Radical Chic”.)  The Sparkplug, on the other hand, was practically drooling, as were many audience members.  That tells you quite a bit.  (There’s a boy soprano part, by the bye, for which they got some young middle school kid, who was scared out of his wits but quite game.  It was nice to see how fondly the choristers looked at him as he did his stuff.)

The last two selections were by somebody named Healey Willan of whom I’ve never heard, and by the Sparkplug himself.  I don’t remember much of them, frankly, except that the text of the Sparkplug’s piece was inane.

When it was over, everyone leaped spontaneously to their feet, as was really right and proper here because the kids did an outstanding job, especially considering that there were about 130 of them, they all only came together for the first time on Thursday, and some of the pieces were really quite tricky.  I’m only a hack sight-reader at the piano myself, and I continually marvel at the caliber of this performance-grade talent and how quickly and expertly they can bring it all together.  Well done, indeed.

As for the Gel, she had an absolute ball, being immersed in a group that was on the one hand so dedicated to what they were doing, and on the other so immediately and extremely friendly with each other.  It helped that five other kids from her school were there, but I gather that even singletons were quickly made to felt at home.  She was very reluctant to leave when all was over and done.

So in a couple of weeks, the Gel’s school madrigals group is going to do their annual Renaissance Feaste, a mock-Elizabethan Christmas dinner with costumes, props, and silly dialogue, but also with musick much more to Ol’ Robbo’s liking: 20 voices performing 16th and 17th Century madrigals, rounds, and carols in mostly four and five part close polyphony.  That’s the stuff!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo’s latest cinematic treat this week was “The General” (1926), the classic Buster Keaton silent film in which he plays a Southern train engineer during the Civil War.   When Yankee spies slip into Georgia and steal a train with which they plan to cause mayhem behind the lines in support of a Union advance, Keaton’s patriotic character (actually named Johnnie Gray), although previously rejected by the Confederate Army (and his girl) because of the importance of his civilian work, nonetheless single-handedly takes off in pursuit with another locomotive and thwarts the Yankee plot.  Of course, I’m probably violating all sorts of Socialist Juicebox Wanker taboos just watching a film that has a sympathetic Southerner as its hero, much less commenting on it.

Without looking it up because I’m being lazy and because I couldn’t link it anyway due to WordPress’s continued cussedness, I’ve an idea that this film is loosely based on an actual Great Locomotive Chase that occurred during the War, although I can’t now recall which side did the original stealing, who chased whom, or what the eventual outcome was.  For some reason, I believe the locomotive involved in that one was called the “Texas”. UPDATE:  The lovely and talented Diane looked it up.  So did I.  She is correct that the stolen locomotive was, in fact, called The “General”, and that the Yankees were the thiefs.  The “Texas” was one of the locomotives the Confederates used in the chase.  Indeed, she was on the southbound tracks and the Rebs ran her backwards in pursuit.  Somewhere or other, Ol’ Robbo still has an old National Geographic book on the War that includes a painting of this backward pursuit.  That’s what was lurking in the recesses of my braims when I wrote this paragraph.

Anyhoo, I haven’t seen this film since I was about thirteen, when the Mothe took me to see it at the old Olmos Theatre in San Antonio as part of a “classics” series that also featured such greats as the Marx Brothers, the “Pink Panther” movies, Hitchcock, and others.  Of course here, Keaton is the film, and the pleasure comes in watching the combination of his deadpan face and the facility with which he did all his own stunts. (His very last film, “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum” (1966), is a huge favorite of Ol’ Robbo’s, in no small part because his character of Erronius – “a befuddled old man” – is really a loving tribute to Keaton’s skills.)

Alas, the version of “The General” owned by Netflix is seriously marred by the soundtrack that accompanies it, which is nothing more than a series of standard orchestral pieces by such composers as Elgar, Tchaikovsky, Strauss, and Glazunov strung together one after another and having absolutely no relationship whatsoever to what is happening on the screen.  I may as well have been listening to the damned radio.  After a while, I hit the mute button out of pure, distracted frustration, but of course that creates its own problems:  Not only is a completely silent film  jarring in and of itself, one is also left listening to all those ambient background noises that one started watching the film to escape in the first place:  skirmishing cats; the dog barking at her own shadow; Youngest Gel on the phone in her room two floors above, yacking with her friends at the top of her very considerable voice.  Grrr…..

The film’s mismatched soundtrack also reminded me of an experience I had with an airing of “Nosferatu” on PBS a few years ago.  Friends of the decanter of a certain age may remember an electronics toy of some years back.  It consisted of a battery-powered board on which were embedded various circuits, transistors, diodes, and other do-hickeys.  With the provided wires, you linked them up by various schematic diagrams in the book accompanying the toy, thereby creating a variety of audio and visual devices.  Well, this “Nosferatu” was accompanied by a score which sounded like nothing so much as a kid messing about with this toy – a random series of pings, grunts, clicks, and wah-wahs that again had absolutely nothing to do with the picture. Infuriating.

(By the bye, Eldest watched “Nosferatu” for the first time recently as part of an English class she’s taking on literary monsters.  She simply couldn’t believe it when I told her that there were numerous instances, among its original audiences, of viewers fainting and having hysterics because they were so frightened.)

Anyway, there you are.  Next time, I might just hit the mute button again, steal Middle Gel’s electronic keyboard, and accompany the damned thing myself.

And speaking of silent, next up on Robbo’s movie list is the 1925 version of “Ben Hur”, which I’ve never seen before.  The blurb on the Netflix envelope says that it is accompanied by a score from Hollywood composer Carl Davis, so hopefully this time there will be a little more sympathy between audio and visual.  I’ll let you know.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

On the way home to Port Swiller Manor this evening, Ol’ Robbo swears he found himself stuck behind someone who was watching teevee while he was driving.  Seriously – I could see his iThingy up on his dashboard with what looked like some guy doing stand-up on the screen.  We were stopping and starting, and this doofus driver kept letting large gaps open up in front of him before he’d notice and then scurry to catch up.


Have people really gone that absolutely bat-shite insane? Have they really become so completely self-absorbed that their personal entertainment trumps all other considerations? Have they become so utterly beholden to their little rectangular electronic gods that they can’t tear themselves away from adoration even for a moment?  (Don’t answer – these are rhetorical questions.  Of course they have.)

It’s almost superfluous to add that the car had Murrland plates on it.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was listening to the local classickal station on the way home this evening when the deejay put in a plug for an upcoming production at one of the local venues of Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito.  Even though it’s Mozart, it’s an opera Ol’ Robbo does not really know at all.  (I won’t go into my general dislike of all but a few pre-Romantic operas and absolutely all Romantic and Post-Romantic ones.  Suffice to say that my taste in Mozart’s contributions to the genre is confined to his three great collaborations with Lorenzo Da Ponte, as well as his earlier Die Entführung aus dem Serail. )

I do know, however, that La Clemenza is set during the reign of the Roman Emperor Titus (reigned 79-81 A.D.), and that it has to do with high-level politickal intrigue during his reign.

Anyhoo, what grabbed my attention was the deejay’s pronunciation of the name “Titus” when she said basically the same thing regarding the plot that I’m writing here.  She said, “TEE-tus”.  I’ve always thought the English pronunciation is “TIE-tus”.

There are several possibilities here.  One, the deejay simply is ignorant.  Two, that the deejay was trying to show off her Latin creds.  Three, that there is more than one acceptable Anglicized pronunciations of the name.  Four, that she was just reading copy rayther hurridly and didn’t have time to recognize the name before she spoke it.

I dismiss the first possibility out of hand.  I happen to know that this deejay is well educated and well travelled, and that she speaks at least French fluently.

I also dismiss the second possibility because if she was going for the Latin she would have said “TEE-TOOS” instead of “TEE-tus”.

I bring up the third possibility because of a memory of watching a program somewhere on the Byzantine Empire.  I’ve always pronounced Byzantine as “BIZZ-un-teen”, but the program narrator, a Brit, kept saying, “BYE-ZAN-teen”.  If “TEE-tus” is a Brit thing (and I honestly don’t know), it’s possible the deejay picked that up somewhere and was using it.

As to the fourth possibility? I’m guessing that’s the real answer.  This particular deejay has time-management issues, and frequently has to stomp on the end of a piece she’s playing because she’s run up against the top of the hour and has to cut out for the Nihilist Propaganda Nooz update.

The world wonders.

(Actually, the world probably doesn’t give a pair of dingo’s kidneys, but this kind of thing always grabs Ol’ Robbo’s attention.)



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I would imagine that some friends of the decanter (especially those who are still here from the old “meaty, woolly, snippy” Llama Days), particularly after reading a goofy, aimless post like the one immediately below, sometimes ask themselves, “Self? Whatever happened to the old Robbo who was so caustic about the continual cultural and politickal slide into the slime?”

(And as an aside, how was that for a Hardyesque cracker of a sentence?)

Well, I suppose there are a couple of reasons for my steering away from that sort of thing these days.

The first is prudential.  As you know I work in The Swamp.  My first obligation is to support the Port Swiller Family, and it doesn’t seem particularly responsible to endanger my career and their livelihood so that I can indulge in unfettered gratuitous ranting here.  (Not that I would expect a genuine friend of the decanter to rat me out, but what happens if some random Socialist Juicebox Wanker stumbles in here and decides to come after me?  Better wait until I’m retired to say what I really think.)

The second is simple time and energy.  While I keep up with the individual waypoints of this slide – the current Hollywood unmaskings, the NFL debacle, the Roy Moore witch-hunt, etc., – very keenly, frankly, by the end of the day (when I have time to post), there’s nothing much left to say that somebody like Ace or Insty hasn’t already said.  Plus, to be honest, I’m bloody sick and tired of it.  It’s only where I think I have some specific, first-hand knowledge or insight that I feel the urge to put in my two cents.  But then,  see point one.

Most importantly, although, as I say, I keep up with it all, I find myself increasingly detached from the whole awful biznay because I recognize its ultimate meaninglessness in relation to, ah, Higher Priorities.   So you can imagine with what resonance and empathy Ol’ Robbo savored part of yesterday’s reading at Mass from Paul’s letter to the Philippians:

17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:

19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

– Philippians 3:17-21  (Yes, I quote the KJV here.  Got a problem with that?)

I can’t think of a plainer or more accurate description of the people who dominate the headlines these days than those “whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.”

And I want nothing to do with it.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

My porch thermometer registered 24 degrees this morning – first hard freeze of the season.

A day or two ago we pulled in off the porch a pair of hanging basket ferns and a potted palm.  I don’t know what we’re going to do with the ferns, but the palm lives in the basement for the winter.  Meanwhile, I went out this morning and chucked the rest of the porch plants, all of which plainly gave up the ghost last night.

I also wrapped up a pair of boxwoods in urns we keep down on the patio, first with layers of bubble-wrap around the urns and then double layers of tarp.  I did this last year (with bubble-wrap and burlap) and was able to keep the boxwoods alive, but then again last winter was pretty mild, so I don’t know what will happen if we get a colder one this year.

I’m also patting myself on the back because a couple weeks ago I took the rose, a Double Knock-Out that we keep in a pot on the porch stairs, and planted it out in the garden.  I’ll leave it there and simply get another rose for the pot next spring.

Finally, I took down the hummingbird feeder.  I reckon they’re long gone by now.  On the other hand, I’d swear the other birds were waiting for me to fill up their feeders. (Chickadees in particular, it is said, are quite intelligent.  I’m pretty sure the locals know me and know what it means when I come out with the bag.)

Then Ol’ Robbo got to spend a couple hours this afternoon moving leaves, which is always fun.  (It looks like we’re going to have another meh foliage season, by the bye.  I can’t remember the last time we had a really good one around here.  Must be Global Enwarmening or something.)

Finally, there’s the issue of when Ol’ Robbo is going to put the rear side-windows back on La Wrangler.  You’d be amazed at how comfy the cockpit can be with just the door windows up and the heater going, even when the temperature is below freezing.  (Of course, you need to be bundled up somewhat as well.  Youngest Gel insists that I keep a couple blankets in the car so she can cocoon herself whenever she rides with me.)  The real trouble is when the weather turns nasty – rain and snow.  Then you really need to bite the bullet and put on the rear sides.  Once I do put them on, they’ll stay on for the season, because cold canvas and zippers are a real pain to deal with.  I’ve gone so far as to bring them inside to clean and heat them up, although I still haven’t decided when to commit yet.  As for the rear window, I leave that rolled up for all but the worst weather (I’m talking blizzard conditions here).  Indeed, last year, I didn’t roll it down once.

So there you have it.

UPDATE:  And yes, Ol’ Robbo knows it’s Veterans’ Day.  In fact, Middle Gel’s school choir sang at a local event honoring the day, at which she got to meet our Congress-critter.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, cold, dark, early nights mean moar movies for ol’ Robbo, so here are some thumbnail sketches of what has floated across the Port Swiller screen this week.  (None of these are part of my Hollywood History of the World project, by the bye, just mostly what was already in the ol’ Netflix queue.)

Oh, and once again I apologize because my WordPress linky button still doesn’t seem to be working.  Go figure.

Nonetheless, here we go:

Operation Petticoat” (1959) – In 1941, a damaged American submarine has to clear out of the Philippines ahead of the oncoming Japanese invasion.  In the course of her scramble, she picks up a set of a half-dozen female nurses.  Hy-larity ensues, up to and including the need  to paint the sub pink.  A perfectly harmless comedy.  Cary Grant, as the sub commander, would be entertaining just sitting on an empty stage reading names out of a phone book.  On the other hand, Tony Curtis plays his XO.  Ol’ Robbo has never understood the appeal of Tony Curtis, especially when he tries to play pretty-boy sophisticates.  (Here, he is a REMF whose experience to date has been nothing but vamping officers’ wives.)  I think it was Mark Steyn who somewhere mocked Curtis’s ridiculous accent in such roles by quoting, from what I don’t know,  “Yonduh is duh castle of muh fadduh, duh Emperuh.”  All I know is that I howl with laughter at his line from “Spartacus” where he tells Olivier, “I also teach duh Classics.” (BTW, IMDB tells me he also had a bit part in “Winchester ’73“, one of Ol’ Robbo’s favorites.  I’ve never noticed before. I’ll have to look next time.)

I’d never seen this film before, but it brought back to mind the fact that back in my misspent yoot I had watched the teevee series (1977-79) based on it, starring John “I’ll do anything” Astin as the skipper and, ironically, Jamie Lee Curtis as one of the lady crew.  I also immediately recognized, because of the kind of flotsam and jetsam strewed across the Robbo braims, that the series had simply borrowed a good bit of stock footage from the film.  (I’m thinking particularly of the torpedo that hits the truck on the beach, which I think was in the teevee show opening credits.)

Objective, Burma!” (1945) – Another new-to-me film.  A special paratrooper corps jumps into Burma to take out a large Japanese radar installation, but has to hack its way out on foot when air support can’t extricate it.  Errol Flynn – fifteen years older and about fifteen pounds heavier than in his early 30’s swashbuckling days – leads the troops.  Eh, it was okay, if a highly romanticized version of the actual conditions of ground combat in Burma as relayed by George MacDonald Fraser, who was a sniper-scout in the British XIV Army there, in his autobiographical Quartered Safe Out Here.

I think I actually have this one in my queue as part of my Hollywood History project, but in fact I  watched it on Turner Classic Movies this week as part of their Rehabilitating Communism series marking the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution.  One of the writers of the film, Lester Cole, was part of the “Hollywood Ten” and was black-listed.  The fellah who MC’s the TCM films these days noted this, and was quick to explain that the Red Scare was nothing more than the gratuitous lashings out of a bunch of close-minded, knuckle-dragging, Bible-thumping, sister-loving, Unpeople of Jesusland and totally without merit.  In this day and age, after all we’ve learned about Hollywood, the Media, Academia, and the Deep State, ol’ Robbo is gob-smacked that these people still have the chutzpah to push that line.

Talking Heads: Stop Making Sense” (1984) – What, you think Ol’ Robbo can’t be hip? (Stop laughing.) I watch this concert film every now and again just because I happen to like the Talking Heads (I am sure I’ve told the story here before about the time I listened to their album “More Songs About Buildings And Food” for nearly seven straight hours because it was the only tape I had in my car)  and because I enjoy the pure energy here.  This time, I found myself wondering idly how many calories David Byrne, ah, burned every time he did that show.

Live And Let Die” (1973) – The first of the Roger Moore Bond films, of course.  I hadn’t seen it in years, and was immediately struck, in terms of pacing and story, at how much more like the old Connery films had been, as opposed to the more, eh, frivolous and gimmicky direction the later Moore editions took.  Of course, I was also struck by the lovely and talented Jane Seymour, who I believe debuted here.  My stars, though, I’ll bet the Socialist Juicebox Wankers scream “Raaaaaayciiiiiist!!!!” over this one at the top of their Pajama-Boy voices these days.

So there you have it.  Feel free to add your own opinions, observations, comments, reflections, recommendations, etc.

In the meantime, I’m off to watch “Damn the Defiant” (1962) – Alec Guinness plays the captain of one of His Majesty’s Ships during the Napoleonic Wars trying to keep his sadistic Number One, played by Dirk Bogarde, from driving his crew to mutiny.  I’ve only seen this movie once before and retain a generally positive memory, but we will see what a return viewing produces.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Must be an awfully slow nooz cycle this afternoon, because at the 6 P.M. top o’ the hour break on the local classickal station, Nihilist Propoganda Radio devoted a portion of its precious three minutes to getting it’s knickers in a wad over the Wisconsin State Senate eliminating the minimum hunting age.  [Sorry, no linky at the moment because WordPress is acting up this evening.]

The piece was mostly about “critics'” concerns that the woods would now be filled with unsupervised shotgun-toting toddlers spraying Death left, right, and center, and How Could Any Responsible Government Allow This?

It was only at the very end the reporter admitted that, in fact, 34 other states have no minimum hunting age.

I laughed out loud at that.

Ol’ Robbo hasn’t been hunting in nearly thirty years, nor has he passed on to the Gels any of his remaining knowledge of it.  Mrs. Robbo has a strong Bambi Complex, and said sport was never important enough to me to be worth picking a fight with her over it.

Nonetheless, the nooz does provoke some fond memories.

I must have been about five or six when I first started tramping around after the Old Gentleman as he went quail hunting in South Texas.  On certain special occasions, I was rewarded for my pains by being allowed to fire off his shotgun at a piece of wood floating in a stock tank.  At least once, the thing knocked me down.

When I was seven, I started learning how to shoot in earnest, firing a little .22 at tin cans set up on fence posts in our back yard.  (There was no one living behind us, only empty scrub.)

The next year, I graduated up to a Remington .222, and put in some earnest time at the local rifle range.  During hunting season that year, I bagged a white-tail buck and a big tom turkey (which we had for Christmas dinner – delicious!).

When I was about twelve or thirteen, in addition to my rifle work, I started learning to use a shotgun, shooting skeet in the summah and hunting duck in the winter.  By the time I was a senior in high school, I was actually a pretty decent wing-shot.

And that was it.  I went off to college and don’t recall ever deer hunting again.  The aforementioned Last Hunt (dove hunting with the Old Gentleman in the South Carolina Low Country) was over Christmas Break of either my first or second year of law school, and my eyes were so damn bad by then that I couldn’t even see the bloody birds, much less knock them down.

So that was that.

Still, as I say, I’m fond of the memories.

Now, so long as I’m on the topic of guns, I will also say that the one thing I dearly wish to happen is that the Gels all learn to arm and defend themselves.  Alas, I can’t put them any knowledge myself, because I’ve never actually fired a handgun in my life.  The signs, however, are hopeful:

For one thing, even though Mrs. R still loathes hunting (because Bambi), she is gradually shaking off her belief that guns are evil and icky and likely to jump up and shoot you all by themselves.  I’ve almost convinced her to let me bring a weapon into Port Swiller Manor for home defense.  (Which reminds me:  My brother still has his Remington 12-guage given to him by the Old Gentleman for Christmas one year.  What the hell ever happened to mine?)  And she does not flat-out object to the idea of the Gels arming up, either.

For another, one of Eldest Gel’s profs teaches an off-campus shooting course from time to time, and she’s said more than once that she’s going to sign up the next time it’s available.  She’s also said she plans to buy a gun as soon as she’s old enough.

For a third, Middle Gel recently went out to a local range with a Young Gentleman friend of hers (and his family), and had a ball blazing away at the targets with a variety of hardware.  (I’m especially concerned about her because she’s such a petite thing.)

Fourth, Youngest is keen to give it a try as well, although based on her learner’s permit driving woes (she struck out on the test for a third time), I’m not sure she has the necessary focus yet.

So there’s that.





Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo just learned that Youngest Gel, now a high school sophomore, made varsity swim team again this year.  It’s always gratifying to see one of your kids achieve something genuinely solid as a result of her own self-motivated hard work.  Woo Hoo!

Swim meets, by the bye, are a very moderate entertainment for those of us stuck in the bleachers.  The kid is only in the water for a few seconds at a time, with loooong intervals between each of her competitions, and what with everyone wearing the same suit, goggles, and cap, most of the time I can’t even tell which one she is.

Nonetheless,  I am still very pleased and proud (as is she).

** Yeah, yeah, I know.  But I’ve got a blog and there you are.  Just wait – in a few years I’m likely to start posts with the sentence “Let me tell you about my grandchildren……”


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