Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Mardi Gras!

Ol’ Robbo celebrated the evening by killing off his current box o’ wine (I’m giving up the grape for Lent – prayers appreciated) and watching some Monty Python.

I must say that, although said Python was a definite influence on my misspent yoot, the older I get, the more apparent becomes the distinction between the gold and the dross.  At times, the Team still seem to me to be absolutely transcendent in terms of their humor, but the hackery of some of their other bits also becomes more apparent.

How lovely to possess the DVD technology to bleep right through the tedious bits and get on to the keepers. 

Which are your favorite Python items?  And, relatedly, which are your favorite presentations of them: TeeVee, film or record?  

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sat with Eldest Gel as she registered on line to vote this evening.  She wanted to get in early enough to participate in the Ol’ Virginny primaries next month.

Yeeks.

“Dad”, she said, “I’m confused.  I’ve read a lot recently by some sensible people calling themselves “classical liberals”, but they don’t sound very much like the other “liberals” I read about. What gives?”

“Oh,” I replied, “You’re absolutely right.  The two are completely different.  In fact, I consider myself to be a “classical liberal”.  I’m not much of a teacher, but read Adam Smith.  Read Edmund Burke.  Read Friedrich Hayek.  They will tell you what it means.”

“Yeah,” she said, “maybe.”

I hope she does, although I doubt it (at least in the immediate future).  Sad, this may be.  On the other hand, given her proclivities, had she been an avid reader at this age, she would by now have stumbled across and embraced Ayn Rand.  I’m really rayther happy that this hasn’t happened.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, ol’ Robbo watched the Sooper Bowl this evening, only the second pro football game he’s caught this season.  Some observations:

  • Good game.  Ol’ Robbo prefers a good defensive struggle to an offensive blow-out.  I’m the same way about baseball, with which I am far more concerned.  I recall a banner on the wall in my own high school locker room:  “If they never score, we never lose.  Defense wins championships.”
  • (I can’t make this dot go away(
  • Peyton Manning.  I’ve enjoyed seeing the guy thwarted from time to time over the years because of his, in my humble opinion, outsized ego.  But his final game? Nice to see him get another ring.
  • (ditto)
  • I heard (did not see) that “Lady Gaga” sang the National Anthem straight down the middle, concentrating on the anthem and not on herself (indeed, making a point of it).  If so, good on her.  For that, at least.
  • (ditto)
  • Ol’ Robbo flees  as far away from “pop” culture as he can on a regular basis, confining his ordinary teevee viewing to old movies, baseball,  and cable retro series like “Star Trek: TNG” and “Frasier”.  It’s only in such incidences as the Sooper Bowl that he comes in direct contact with what might be called the here and now.  My impression?  God help us all – it’s worse than I thought.
Kitteh and Rose

Kitteh and Rose

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo finds himself standing around and kicking his heels today while waiting for the construction guy to show up.  For those of you who have followed the saga of the Port Swiller Manor renovations, the basement (specifically, the Eldest’s bedroom) is flooding again owing to the melt from Snowzilla, so once more the fellah needs to come out and find the leak.  This is his third or fourth attempt.  So far, he’s tried to fix it from the outside but I think he’s probably going to have to face the fact this time that he’s got to re-excavate part of the inside wall.  I know he’s trying to save himself labor and supply costs (I have no intention of paying for this repair), but enough is enough.

Anyhoo, I noticed this rayther aesthetically pleasing scene of kitteh and rose so I thought I would share it over the decanter.  The kitteh is Fiona, a very quiet and self-contained animal but quite friendly in her own way and capable of some very crazy fits.  The rose is the double-knockout that usually lives at the top of the porch stairs out back.  That’s probably the sunniest window in the house during winter, but as you can see, the plant has got quite gangly trying to soak up the rays.  Better than freezing to death outside like the last one, however.

By the way, who do you guys like for “L”?  Personally, I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of watching Manning miss it by thaaaat much over the years, but as this is his last game and I kinda like the Broncs anyway, I’m going with them.  Anyway, my brother in North Carolina would rightly tag me as a band-wagoner if I suddenly started rooting for the Panthers, plus that Cam Newton guy, undoubtedly a very gifted young QB, has been making jackass comments lately.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As hinted in the post below, ol’ Robbo started to feel what a former secretary of his used to described as “henky” last week.  Friday afternoon, I left the shop early, came home and basically stayed in bed until this morning.  Flu, don’t you know.  The kind that makes every joint in your body ache and all your muscles turn to jello.  However, I went back to work today, albeit feeling flayed and with that gravely voice that proclaims, “Yeah, I been sick”, but otherwise under my own steam.

My time out got me ruminating on a question that I’ve long considered regarding the relationship between everyday personality and bedridden same.  Well, not so much a question as an observation.

You see, Mrs. R, who is  a very outgoing type, on the very rare occasions in which she is confined to the sick-bed, loves to be pampered.  Tea, crackers, meds, fluffed pillows, companionship – she appreciates all of these, and the more the merrier.

Me? Well, friends of the decanter will already know that I am somewhat misanthropic, generally avoiding human contact whenever I politely and diplomatically can.  But when I’m sick?  Get the hell out and leave me alone!  All I require is peace, quiet, and, when I want them, tea and a good book.

As I say, just an observation on the exaggeration of general personality in weakened condition and probably not much of one.  On the other hand, are there examples of outgoing people who crave privacy when ill? Misanthropes who wish for lavish bedside attention?  I simply don’t know.

newmarketGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

My apologies for the lack of posts the past few days:  Ol’ Robbo has been somewhat under the weather, perhaps due to his recent physical exertions  in re digging out (which see below), perhaps due to subsequent flu-like symptoms which have plagued him because (according to his family’s collective harping) he skipped this year’s flu shot.

Anyhoo, this evening ol’ Robbo finally got around to watching the movie “Field of Lost Shoes“, the story of the Virginia Military Institute cadets who fought in the Confederate victory at the Battle of New Market on May 15, 1864.

I will tell you here and now (those of you who don’t know) that VMI to this very day is damned proud of those boys.  And so she should be.

Overall, I thought it a reasonably good movie in the tradition of buddies-forged-in-the-fire-of-war films.  It was fairly small in scope, apropos  the relatively small scale of the battle and the units who fought in it.   Also, I would rank it fairly high in the recent spate of Civil War pictures spawned by the success of “Gettysburg” in terms of battlefield depictions and strategic commentary.

I recall that when this pic came out, there was a good deal of po0-pooing from the usual suspects owing to its alleged ambiguous treatment of the overriding moral issues involved.  Frankly, ol’ Robbo didn’t see what the bloviating was about: Slavery was depicted categorically as a Bad Thing throughout, doomed by most (North and South) as ending sooner or later anyway.  Yes, there were a number of other issues – family, honor, duty, tradition – superimposed across this, but I fail to see why this should come in for criticism.  (Of course, ol’ Robbo is the kind of fool who still believes that people in 1864 should be judged by the standards of, oh, 1864, and not by those of 2014.  Hindsight is not only a bitch, she’s a blind one, too.  He’s also the kind of fool who believes that logic should play any role in professional grievance-mongering.  Silly o’ Robbo.)

Now for my own geeky criticisms of the film:

Casting:  I know nothing of the actual Keydets involved, so can say nothing about their characters.  I also know next to nothing about John C. Breckinridge, the Confederate commander, so can offer nothing much about the casting of Jason Isaacs to play him.  Werner Daehn as Union General Franz Sigel? Well, maybe, although from what I have read, Sigel’s actual German accent was much worse than portrayed here, even if his incompetency was not.   But Tom Skerritt as Sam Grant?  I. Don’t. Think. So.

Historick Story:  As I mentioned above, this is a fairly small-scale movie about a relatively small-scale battle.  Nonetheless, the movie itself presents New Market as a “pivotal” battle of the Civil War.  Okay, I understand marketing and all that, but no, New Market was not that pivotal.  Yes, Grant envisioned the Eastern Campaign  in terms of getting Lee into a clinch somewhere along the Washington/Richmond line and then kidney-punching him down the Shenandoah Valley.  Yes, Sigel’s inept failure at New Market was a set back to that plan.  But the thing about the imbalance of forces in the War was that the Union could afford such losses and still come back for more, sticking to its strategy through superiority of manpower and materiel.   After Sigel’s inept handing, Grant tasked “Little” Phil Sheridan with the job of wiping out the Shenandoah, which Sheridan did with ruthless efficiency.  Bottom line: It would have happened one way or another.

Also, the Battle of New Market, including the indisputably gallant charge of the Keydets, occurred in large part during a violent thunderstorm, a thing not at all uncommon in the Valley in May.  Why did not the producers take advantage of this fact in order to emphasize the drama?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Port Swiller Manor after the  Initial Driveway Cleanup

Port Swiller Manor after the Initial Driveway Cleanup

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, the Family Robbo survived Snowzilla intact.  Indeed, we didn’t even lose power this time around, owing to the lightness and dryness of the snow. Deo gratias.

Dulles recorded 29″ while they got 22″ downtown.  I think we probably split the baby here.

In any case, I’ve spent the last three days heaving snow off the Port Swiller driveway and my arms and shoulders ache something fierce as a result. (I also think I pulled something in my abs today.)  But the real story of the cleanup was the Eldest Gel.  I had mentioned casually to her a couple days before the storm that I expected her to help shovel out, given that her own car was involved in the matter.  Nonetheless, I had envisioned that when push came to shove she would balk, finding some excuse for weaseling out and leaving the whole job to ol’ Robbo (who, quite frankly, is getting a bit old to deal with this sort of thing all by his lonesome.)

Well, was I pleasantly surprised.  Both yesterday and today, the gel was actually on station and shoveling away even before I even got out of bed.  Plus, not a single word of complaint the entire time, indeed, the closest she came was to say, “I hate this, but I know it needs to be done.”  Instead, we chatted and listened to her iThingy playlist of classic rock.

Musick to ol’ Robbo’s ears.  That the gel is thinking like a responsible adult is something I’ve been praying for, for a very long time indeed.  Also, although I suppose we could have hired somebody to come and dig us out, ol’ Robbo was brought up with the idea that hard work (including manual labor) is important to character development.  The gel felt damned proud of herself for pitching in, and so she should have.  (And get this: She also asked if she could borrow my copy of C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, as she has felt the need recently to shore up the underpinnings of her faith in the face of all the hostility she gets about it from some of the kids at her school.)

Oh, speaking of musick, at one point I was at the top of the drive while she was working closer to the garage.  “Bohemian Rhapsody” turned up on her phone, and even though I was some distance from her, at the appropriate point I went into “Wayne’s World” head-banger mode.  The gel laughed and laughed.

Good times.  Good times.

 

 

Image filched from the Capital Weather Gang (which see link)

Image filched from the Capital Weather Gang (which see link)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers, from the midst of Snowzilla!

Yes, it set in around 1:45 pm yesterday and has been snowing like dammit ever since.  Tough to eyeball accurately, but I’d say we’re already well north of a foot at Port Swiller Manor, with a forecast of continued white stuff well into tonight.

Ol’ Robbo was actually surprised to wake up this morning and find that the power had not gone out overnight.  That means at least one more hot pot of coffee for me, so for the moment all is well.  The wind hasn’t really been an issue yet and I think, I think, we might just dodge that particular bullet.

Of course, I could be mis-

No, no.  Just kidding.

If the power holds up today, I plan to watch a 1981 production of Othello that I stumbled across in the Netflix library.  Bob Hoskins plays Iago, so it has some potential.  I’ll let you know what I think.

If not, I’ve started in again on Anthony Powell’s A Dance To The Music Of Time.  I’m not sure if this is my second or third reading but I’m already getting much more out of it than last time.  How I could have missed a line like “He’s so wet you could shoot snipe off of him” previously is beyond me.

The Big Dig starts tomorrow.  Despite the fact that the Bishop has already granted dispensation to stay home, I would like to have gone to Mass.  Unfortunately, I just don’t think I’ll be able to get the driveway cleared in time to make it.  Oh, well.  At least I’m guaranteed some good exercise.

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Whelp, here she comes – they’re still calling for a total of a couple feet starting this afternoon, together with howling winds and whiteout conditions.

If you don’t hear from me in the next few days, it’ll be because the power is out.  (Yeah, it seems I should have bought that generator now, but this is still too rare an event to quite justify it to me.)

Picking up on the comments below, we’ve lost power before in the winter, of course, but I don’t recall the outages lasting more than a day or so.  The longest blackouts that I remember at Port Swiller Manor came in the wake of Hurricane Isabel in ’03 and the big Derecho in 2012, each one lasting four or five days.  Those were miserable times.  In winter, if you have enough firewood, blankets, and adult beverages, all you have to do is snuggle in.  But in summah?  The house gets progressively hotter and more disgusting and there’s not much relief other than to hide in the basement.

Or, as Mrs. R is wont to do, flee to a hotel.

Anyhoo, we’ll see what happens.

I’ll catch up with you all on the other side, perhaps with pictures.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Whelp, the local weather wallahs are becoming increasingly convinced that the area around Port Swiller Manor is about to be clocked by a serious blizzard.

Eh.  Although we face the real likelihood of a power outage as a result of this storm, Port Swiller Manor is adequately packed with wine, firewood, gas-range cookables. T.P., and birdfood** to tough it out.  Plus, ol’ Robbo’s order of 40 pounds of driveway melt arrived on schedule this evening, and his garage now boasts not one but two snow shovels.

We’ll do fine.

What the experts like to call this latest “snow event” brings to the fore again a perpetual question: Should ol’ Robbo plunk for a generator?

On the one hand, power outages around here tend to be fairly rare, brief, and hardly life-threatening.   Plus, said generators ain’t exactly cheap. (As I explain to the gels, one does not “get” a generator, one “buys” one.  Yuuuge difference.)

On the other…well, I frankly can’t see any arguments myself.  My family, OTOH, are vociferous in their argument that we need one in order to maintain collective body and soul.  Because comfort.

Somehow, I doubt John Wayne would have thought much of such self-indulgence, so I guess I’ll stick with the Duke on that one.

Anyhoo, the next couple days should prove interesting.  If you don’t hear from ol’ Robbo during that time, you’ll know in advance why.

 

* I mentioned this name to the Eldest and she laughed heartily.  We have a whole, complex protocol for naming storms ’round here that has nothing to do with Jim “Mimbo” Cantore and those self-aggrandizing bozos as the Weather Channel.

** Ol’ Robbo has long been a keen bird watcher and keeps two (three during the humming bird season) feeders going off his back porch for the locals’ benefit.  This said, I feel a heightened obligation toward the local fowl when extreme weather strikes.

 

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