schumannOl’ Robbo, having seen the Nats pull back up to within 5 1/2 of the Mets this evening, spent the shank of it on a whim listening to some of the orchestral works of Robert Schumann – the 1st (“Spring”) and 3rd (Rhenish”) symphonies, to be exact.

Oh, Bobby, Bobby, Bobby.  I admire your keyboard talent, but wish heartily that when you applied yourself to the symphonic oeuvre, you had had a good editor at your side armed with a large bat.

“No, Robert, we do not do it this way.  No, Robert! We! Do! Not! Do! It! This! Way!

*Wham! Wham! Wham!*

Might have helped.  While there are lots of good ideas there, they really are, structurally speaking, a hot mess.

Actually, my favorite Schumann symphony is his 4th (the revised, 1851 version – I’ve heard the earlier go and it’s an even hotter mess).  I was first introduced to it by the Old Gentleman in my misspent yoot, when he would play his 8-track tape of it in our old Ford Country Squire station wagon on our hunting and fishing road-trips, and it just stuck.

But it’s good to know his others, even if I’m not crazy about them.

Speaking of Romantic Era symphonies, I am in the market for the complete sets of both Mendelssohn and Dvorak.  Anyone have any recommendations?  (With regard to the latter, I know his 7th, 8th and 9th very well but almost nothing about the first six.  In re the former, my favorites are teh “Scottish” and the “Reformation”.)  References to historickally informed performances, especially with regard to ol’ Felix, are especially appreciated.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sorry for the lack of posting this week.  Ol’ Robbo has been somewhat becalmed, creatively-speaking, no doubt due to dog days of summah fatigue.  It happens.  So here are just a few things:

♦   Pulling into my garage at work this morning, I overheard one of the guards opining to another that “we ought to have free health care and college here like they do over in Europe.” I wanted to leap out, grab the man by the neck and shake him violently.   The pure ignorance of this sentiment becomes more and more critically important the closer the progressivistas push us to Euro-socialism.  Let me repeat then (although I know all of you know this already) a fundamental fact of reality:  Where goods and services are provided, there is no such thing as “free”.  Ever. Period.  Somebody has got to pay for it, otherwise it won’t be produced.  Argh!

UPDATE: And that somebody in the world of rainbows and unicorns, of course, is teh gub’mint.  Allow me to quote Peej O’Rourke’s description from “All The Trouble In The World” of Milton and Rose Friedman’s identification of teh four ways money is spent:

1.  You spend your own money on yourself.  You’re motivated to get the thin you want at the best price.  This is the way middle-aged men haggle with Porsche dealers.

2.  You spend your money on other people.  You still want a bargain, but you’re less interested in pleasing the recipient of your largesse.  This is why children get underwear at Christmas.

3.  You spend other people’s money on yourself.  You get what you want but price no longer matters.  The second wives who ride around with the middle-aged men in the Porsches do this kind of spending at Neiman Marcus.

4.  You spend other people’s money on other people.  And in this case, who gives a shite?

Most gub’mint spending falls in category four.

How does one convey this to the Free Shite Army?  No idea – send ’em to Venezuela for a while, I guess.

♦   I continue to enjoy the phenomenon of Teh Donald, but I am amazed at some of the reactions his advent has caused on the Right among people I never would have thought would shill for the Establishment.  I am particularly puzzled by those who scold that we shouldn’t be “duped” by his hucksterism.   Well, I dunno about anyone else, but this certainly isn’t the case with me.  I know perfectly well exactly how awful he is.  The only reason I am even considering voting for him is nicely summed up in a bumper sticker proposal I read somewhere (slightly sanitized here because family blog): “Trump ’16:  Because Screw You, GOP! That’s Why!”

UPDATE:  Again, I am no “Trumpkin” as his supporters are sneeringly called by some.  I’m not like that woman at the Mobile rally photographed looking like she was meeting Elvis-come-back-to-life.  In fact, my order of preference is probably Jindal, Cruz, Walker.  However, Jindal doesn’t have the national mojo and Walker has been disappointingly quiet.  OTOH, I think Cruz and Trump have some kind of understanding, which could prove very interesting, indeed.  But this is the first election I can see myself voting specifically against something, and that is the corporatist, amnesty-pushing, get-along-go-along RINO squishfest known as the Republican Party.  I’ll simply sit on my hands and watch it all burn before being sold out by them again.

♦   Middle Gel is off with some of her friends to see a Mystics basketball game this evening.  Frankly, I had forgotten they even exist.  How much money does the WNBA actually pull in?  (Oh, and they’re all (the Gel and her friends, not the Mystics) coming back to Port Swiller Manor for a sleepover afterwards.  Groan….) UPDATE: The gels sat courtside and had a good time.  MG tells me the crowd wasn’t all that big, which doesn’t surprise me because the whole WNBA thing has always had a sort of Title IX flavor to it.  I wisely slept in the basement, as Daisy kept barking all night at the noise the gels were making in MG’s room.

♦   Meanwhile, my beloved Nats seemed to be playing with more verve and passion this week, having briefly got back up to full strength, but a new round of injuries is giving me moar ulcers.  The Mets have got to choke sooner or later, haven’t they? Haven’t they?  UPDATE: Whelp, the Mets did lose last night, but so did we.  This is what happens when you load the bases with nobody out and can’t capitalize.

♦   The nice weather round here this week has allowed ol’ Robbo to go back to his lunchtime walkies.  I like to do a loop around the Mall that adds up to about three miles and change, and stick with it at any temperature up to about the mid 80’s.  (I take a particular perverse delight in making my circuit in cold, wet, nasty weather, but I think that’s just my Inner Scot coming through.)  Today I was watching a number of birds feeding out on the grass as I marched by when I suddenly remembered a character out of a book (“Bored of the Rings” possibly?) who amused himself by arranging breadcrumbs in order to get flocks of pigeons to spell out rude words.  I find it makes folks a bit nervous if you’re walking along and suddenly start snickering to yourself.

♦  Finally, speaking of weather, it would be nice if TS Erika (or whatever it is) came on up the East Coast because we could use some of that sweet, sweet rain.  We got a fair amount over the first half of the summah, but it has been pretty dry since mid-July.  I put this down to the fact that we finally got a landscaper to put in some extra drains and retainer walls to deal with the flooding problem we’ve had for years here.  (Port Swiller Manor sits on a hillside and all the runoff was coming straight down the driveway and ponding against the garage and front of the house.  Flooded the basement out a couple years ago.)  Rain stopped almost the exact day they started work.  As an old comic strip I used to love put it, “They’ll do it every time.”  One of the catch-phrases from the strip, “The Urge to Kill”, is still in the family lexicon.  UPDATE: Well, so much for that.

Since I’m still in the fiddling-around stage with my new iPhone, here’s a snap of some of the new anti-flood measures:

Drive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Although ol’ Robbo, having taken care of this past week’s necessary Saturday morning yard work ’round Port Swiller Manor quickly and efficiently, looked forward to a very delightfully (and unusually) cool,  late-August afternoon in the hammock with a glass full of ice and a Flashman story, instead I found myself dragooned by teh Eldest Gel into going bowling with her.

Apparently, I don’t bond with said EG enough, DAD! And I need to take advantages of these invitations, DAD! Before she goes off to college next year, DAD! Because if I refuse she will come away with no other thoughts about me except my coldness and how to deep-six me in a retirement home for the minimal cost to herself, DAD!

To which my reply has always been, in so many words, “Shut up.”

Nonetheless, I went.

Pricking my memory very hard, I cannot recall than I have bowled since high school.  Back then, not only did I go down to the lanes with my friends on Saturday afternoons fairly regularly, I actually once took a semester course in the game in order to avoid the Lord of the Flies locker room of my school’s gym.  As I recall, at my peak I was bowling somewhere in the 200 range.

The Gel didn’t know any of this history.  Thus, when I stepped up to my very first frame and bowled a perfect strike, she was, shall we say, perturbed.

Heh.  Almost made the whole thing worth it.

Of course, although I got a subsequent smattering of strikes and spares,  I couldn’t keep it up.  My hands have since become arthritic.  I wrenched something in my rights forearm kaiaking on vacation a couple weeks ago.  Because I don’t dance, my pelvic muscles aren’t used to the stretches and strains of the proper bowling delivery.  And don’t ask about my rowing-blown knees.  By the third game, I was well over my pitch-count limit and was tossing nothing but junk.  And for the last couple days, I’ve been hobbling.

Nonetheless, I can report that I beat teh Gel, two games out of three, despite the fact that she was using the gutter rails.  Of course, some of this might have had to do with the fact that her own delivery is something closer to a baseball submarine pitch than to an orthodox bowl.  So there’s that.

I will say also that bowling alleys ain’t what they were back in my day, at least some of them.  This one was one of those jazzed up kinds with lots of black-light, laser lighting, thumping “music”, automatic scoring, and big screen teevees featuring ESPN and teh kiddy channelz.  As the Gel warned, watching SpongeBob and listening to Katy Perry at the same time is a most, um, disturbing thing.

No, as I sat through all the noise, I couldn’t help thinking of teh Good Old Days:

Heh.  Even now I still use “Buh-dee” on a regular basis.

Teh Younger Gels were away this week, visiting their cousins up in Bah-ston.  Upon their return, they heard all about what I was up to with EG.  Guess what they want to do next weekend.

Not sure I’ll be healed in time for it.

 

 

 

"Semper vigilo"

“Semper vigilo”

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo has discovered that the more comfortable Daisy the Port Swiller Dog has grown with her surroundings, the more possessive of them she also has become, to the extent that she starts barking her fool head off every time she imagines she hears or sees something violating the Port Swiller Manor perimeter.  I expect the neighbors are all heartily sick of it by now.  Certainly it gets on our nerves at times.

Back in the days of my misspent yoot, we had a Scottie who used to do the same thing, much to our annoyance.  When you told him to shut up, he’d offer to bite you.  If you moved in on him threateningly, more often than not he did bite you.  Indeed, one of my books of Haydn piano sonatas still bears his teeth marks from when I tried to swat him with it for making so much noise while I was trying to practice.

Daisy is a bit different.  When you tell her to shut up, she simply feigns incomprehension.  (Oh, there’s feigning going on there, alright.  No doubt about it.)  If you move on her, she collapses into an invertebrate jelly and makes you feel like a cad.

Just like Jonah Goldberg’s Cosmo the Wonderdog had his Jacobin squirrels to deal with, Daisy is obsessed with a Progressivist groundhog who has a burrow in the raspberry bushes in front of the garden.   She spend hours on the porch surveying the back yard and hoping to spot him in his comings and goings, again going into hysterics whenever she spots him.  And every time we let her out into the yard for a potty break, she makes a bee-line for the burrow in order to check it out.  She then goes to the spot in the fence where said groundhog is accustomed to getting through.  (I did not realize before that groundhogs possess the same superpower as cats, in that they can make themselves two-dimensional for purposes of slipping through cracks.  Fortunately, dogs do not possess this power.)

Amidst all the hubbub, I simply try to remind myself that dogs are gonna dog.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo heard yesterday that Lily Tomlin is in a new movie called “Grandma”.  When I first heard the movie’s plot and that it was being billed as a comedy, and especially with the parade of Planned Parenthood fetus-slaughtering horribles somehow becoming even more chillingly evil every day, I thought the whole thing must be a ghastly parody story.  Well, no.

In need of cash — we’ll get to why in a minute — Elle Reid [Tomlin’s character], a poet and sometime professor in her 70s, decides to sell some precious old books. She figures that even though they’re a bit worse for wear, her first editions of Betty Friedan and Simone de Beauvoir should fetch a few hundred dollars at the local feminist bookstore-cafe. Her outrage when she’s grudgingly offered a lot less than that compounds her dismay at her teenage granddaughter’s cluelessness about the authors of “The Feminine Mystique” and “The Second Sex.” What’s wrong with the world these days?

Why did I think it must be a sick parody?  Well you see, the “why” here is that her (of course unmarried) granddaughter is pregnant and wants to get an abortion.  Apparently, the bulk of the picture involves the pair of them knocking about the streets of L.A., laughing, crying and bonding with each other while trying to gin up the readies to pay for it.

I tell yez, the jokes practically write themselves.

The linked review, from the NYTimes,  rayther skates over this foundational plot point in a few short words and instead focuses on Tomlin’s I-Am-Wimminz-Hear-Me-Roar character:

She is impatient with the world and suspicious of the motives of a lot of people in it, but that is partly a result of her idealism, her uncompromising commitment to behaving like a free human being.

Get that?  ROOOAAAR!!

Funnily enough, I’m impatient with the world and suspicious of many peoples’ motives, too, God forgive me.  But the idealism grounding my commitment to “behaving like a free human being” in no way, shape or form involves  aiding and abetting in the destruction of another one.

I suppose I’m just kinda stupid that way.

Anyhoo, I’m guessing the film will get a lot of critical acclaim  and not much box-office dosh.   Certainly none of my daughters – all of whom are very much Pro-Life – would find the slightest reason for wanting to go see it.

RAFGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

I see where today was commemorated over in Blighty as the 75th anniversary of the “hardest day” of the Battle of Britain via a nice fly-by of Spitfires and Hurricanes.  While September 15 (I believe) is the o-fficial Battle of Britain Day, August 18, 1940 saw a massed attack of the Luftwaffe against Biggin Hill and other RAF fighter bases as part of the then-German strategy to wipe out Fighter Command on the ground.  Almost worked, too, and had Hitler kept it up instead of switching targets to London and other big cities, the skies over south-east Britain and the Channel could well have been wide open for any German invasion.

(Of course, there are those who argue that as long as the Royal Navy held command of the sea – and they never really lost it – such invasion would have been impossible regardless of air superiority.  But that’s a different sack of cats.)

All of this is very well depicted in Piece of Cake by Derek Robinson (his best book, IMHO) and also in the movie “Battle of Britain”.

Back in the day when I had a real P.C. instead of this stupid disk drive-less Apple product, I used to play Microsoft’s WWII: Air War in Europe a good bit.  Even had a joystick.  My very favorite scenario when going through the RAF series was the one depicting the “hardest day”.  It was a predawn attack by swarms of Dorniers and Heinkels with a few 109’s thrown in for luck and you had to scramble off the runway as bombs fell all around you.  I would always lose my squadron because they would bank off to chase a flight of bombers moving across from right to left while I kept my sites on another one coming dead straight at me.  If you crammed your throttle wide open and held your nose just right, you could gain both enough speed and enough altitude to take a crack at the lead planes from below.  I would shoot up that flight, then go help my mates and then (if I was playing with unlimited ammo and hadn’t taken too much damage) would go hunting stragglers.

Good times.

Oh, and as we observe the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, it appears that 40% of young Brits don’t even know what it is.  I used to think this kind of historickal ignorance was the product of incompetence in the school systems (both there and here).  Increasingly, I’m coming to the conclusion that it is, in fact, quite deliberate:  It’s much easier to brainwash kids with social justice pablum and rainbow-skittles utopianism when they don’t possess any real factual knowledge.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo’s annual office picnic is scheduled for this Wednesday.  (This year, the crew got t-shirts which, I gather, everyone is expected to wear.  I made a comment this afternoon about mandatory happy-fun clothing that didn’t go over so well with the supervisor who was handing the things out.)

As regular friends of the decanter might know, Robbo hates such forced camaraderie events (no, my office mates are not my “family”) and, in his nearly twenty-five years of legal practice, has worked very hard to avoid them whenever he can, employing a variety of pretexts legitimate regrets involving illnesses, biznay travel and various domestic crises in order to absence himself from said bean-feasts.

This year I find myself cackling with glee because I can duck the festivities (and avoid the t-shirt) on the perfectly legitimate premise that I need to get a very important document drawn up this week and simply cannot afford the time for such frivolities.  Mr. Robbo regrets, Madam….

Hard cheese, I know, but the mission before all else, amirite?

Bwa-hahahahahaha!!!!!

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo found himself able to skip mowing the Port Swiller Manor lawn today owing to the recent bout of dry weather.

b-flies2With the unexpected extra time on my hands, I not only got through some entries on Mrs. R’s honey-do list, but I also had some time to play around with my new iPhone out in the butterfly garden and try some pics of its denizens.

Most of the 25 to 30 or so butterflies that can be found there at any given time are Papilio glaucus, otherwise known as the eastern tiger swallowtail.  I know they’re common as dammit, but I think they’re quite handsome things nonetheless and love to sit out watching them fool about.  The ones with blue on their tails are the females.

b-flies(Incidentally, a little observation quickly establishes that butterflies do not flit around aimlessly – they are quite capable of extremely sophisticated aerobatics when they want.)

We used to get some monarchs now and again, which seemed mostly attracted to the butterfly weed that I used to grow.  I haven’t seen any this year, although this doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t around.

There are also a few other species that I haven’t identified, plus several kinds of moths including a small, white one and also this thing: moth

Plus, of course, all the honeybees, bumblebees, various other winged insects and hummingbirds.

It gets rayther crowded in there sometimes.

When I started out with the Port Swiller Manor garden fifteen years ago, I had highly ambitious plans for something carefully and cleverly laid out.  It was going to have all kinds of subtle color combinations and a steady flow of blooms from earliest spring right through till the frost.

Well…..the demands of time, energy, money, predation by various varmints and critters, all these factors gradually persuaded me that such vaulting ambition really wasn’t going to work out.  So I fell back on what I have now – a Dryad mishmash of Buddleia running rough-shod, some cupflower, a few iris and foxgloves in the shade.  It generally reaches its peak in late July, after which the morning-glory starts taking over.  Aside from cutting it all back in late winter and doing some weeding early in the growing season, I pretty much leave it to itself.  And as I say, it’s full of butterflies and whatnot all summah.

Some day, perhaps, I’ll plot out a few sections to reintroduce some other varieties: butterfly weed, milkweed, coneflower, sunflower and the like.

However, things are good enough for me for now.

UPDATE:  I believe that last chap is a silver-spotted skipper and is actually another butterfly, not a moth.  The big head threw me.

 

 

 

 

 

Four women and one man enter.  Whoever leaves? It ain’t the man.

UPDATE:  Sorry to be cryptic.  Ol’ Robbo is just finding cat fights rayther hard to deal with.  If they were teenaged boys, I could simply whap them across the back of the head or kick them in the pants and tell them to knock it off.  Girls, though?  Better if I just feign deafness and walk quietly to the nearest exit.

Nats HatGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

There’s a moment in one of my favorite movie musickals, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, in which the braggart soldier is just about out of patience at the delay in the appearance of the virgin bride for which he’d payed and for whom he’d come to collect, and the slave in chief of the house in which said soldier (wrongly) believes the girl to be is starting to freak out:

Hysterium:  Uh, Whu, Um, Oh…

Pseudolus: Calm…….

Hysteriun: Buh, Whu, Uh…….

Pseudolus: Caaalm……

Hysterium: Buh, Uh, Whu….

Pseudolus: CALM yourself! I’ll tell you when it’s time to panic.

Miles Gloriosus: Bring me that girl at once or you all shall perish!

Pseudolus:  It’s time…..

I find myself fighting mighty hard against going all Hysterium myself as I contemplate the current situation of my beloved Nationals.  Four games back of the Mets and playing, shall we say, distinctly ho-hum ball.  Yeah, I didn’t really expect to win this week against Kershaw and Greinke, but we’ve dropped a bunch of games recently that we should have won, largely due to poor bullpen management and underperforming run production.

I remind myself that we are facing, this week, probably the last really hard series of the season, taking on the Dodgers and teh Giants at their respective parks.  I recently read somewhere or other that our last six weeks’ schedule is, given the records of our opponents, one of the easiest in the league.

I remind myself that we still haven’t played a game this season with our entire starting squad owing to injuries and that, even though Zimmerman, Werth and Rendon have recently returned, it’s going to take them a while to get up to peak form.  (And as I write, I don’t yet know anything about the latest injury to Harper.)

I remind myself that the Mets have a very, very young starting rotation and also that, well, they’re the Mets, and that although they are currently hot, it’s not unreasonable to expect them to fall apart.

Nonetheless, I see where the knives are beginning to come out for Manager Matt Williams and I’m not so sure that I can resist the temptation to take up the call for his scalp myself.

Man, I love this game but I also really hate it.

Well, what else is there to say except

GO, NATS!!!

 

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