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Well, Robbo’s off to the beach to frolic and cavort.   Or perhaps it’s to cavort and frolic.  There may even be some reveling.  I know it’s some combination of good company, witty repartee, adult beverages, sand, sun, more adult beverages and (rumor has it) a hot tub.

Whichever way the festivities work out, I’ll see you on the other side.  And if  you’re good while I’m gone, I may pass on some of the less self-incriminating highlights when I get back.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As ol’ Robbo hits the road for the summah hols tomorrow, I thought it might be appropriate to go ahead and uncork a bottle now in celebration of TPSAYE’s fourth anniversary.  Yes, four years ago this weekend I first decanted the port, placed the Stilton on the sideboard and the walnuts on the table, and began to serve up my particular brand of bloviation.

I won’t say it’s been the best year evah.  Traffic has been down, and it seems as if a whole raft of fellow bloggers who used to be regulars have quietly slid under the table.   Eh.  Blame Facebook.  Blame blog fatigue.  Blame that weird phenomenon known as “Real Life”.  Nonetheless, it is evident that I still have a small circle of tipplers who enjoy coming round here, and I am gratified by your continued support.

I’d also say that it has gotten somewhat more difficult to maintain post quality of late, which may also explain the traffic drop.  My apologies.  Given the poisonous atmosphere in which ol’ Robbo lives and works, and especially in a year like this one when politicking is reaching fever pitch, I have made the very conscious decision to stay off most subjects that might spark too much attention and controversy.  (After all, I have a family to feed, too, and tace is the Latin for a candle.)  This necessarily limits the scope of my publick blathering to the academick, the domestick and the whimsickal.  These are not bad things in and of themselves of course, but without the meatier stuff I sometimes suspect I get rayther thin and tarsome.   I’m certainly never going to get an Insta-lanche this way.   (The good news is that I’m guardedly confident conditions may change in a few months.)

Howeverthis is supposed to be a celebratory occasion, so to hell with all that!  Pray charge your glasses, ladies and gentlemen, gunn’ls under.  I give you The Port Stands At Your Elbow with three times three and no heel taps!

Last evening as Robbo sat waiting to have his tufts of hair weed-whacked, he was idly flipping through the Washingtonian magazine when his eye fell upon an add for Confederate Trails of Gettysburg.

Having scurried back to the intertoobs, he discovered that the outfit provides a whole variety of one and two hour guided horseback rides over the battlefield.  And one of them involves getting yourself kitted out in period uniform:

This unique event allows you to truly feel as if you have returned to 1863 and are seeing and experiencing the world as they lived it. Your adventure begins at Victorian Photography Studio and Clothing Rental (76 Steinwehr Avenue) where you are measured and dressed in a Soldier’s Uniform.

From there, head to McMillan Woods Youth Campground (within the National Park) on West Confederate Avenue, where your mounts are waiting for you. Complete your adventure when you return your uniform to Victorian Photography Studio and Clothing Rental.


The next time Mrs. R asks me what trips I’d like to take, I’ve got my answer ready.  They call themselves Confederate, but do you think they’d let me play Buford?

Those friends of the decanter who pay any attention to the boys of summah (and I hope that includes the vast majority of you) will probably know that Robbo’s beloved Nationals still sit atop the NL East, having since the all-star break won two series against the Mets (update: including getting the sweep this afternoon) and split another with the Braves.

I have never been in this position before, a genuine fan of a team in serious pennant contention in the latter half of the season.  So long as I’ve been following the Nats, usually by this time – if not cringing in embarrassment over the latest humiliation – I’d be watching the games just for their entertainment value, perhaps noting the development of such-and-such player and wondering what trades would make sense for next year.   This year, on the other hand, even games in July are being played like they’re games in October.

It is a very curious sensation.

There is a body of opinion in the port swiller household that the excitement is, perhaps, turning ol’ Dad’s head ever so slightly, but really, I think such concern is grossly exaggerated.  Just because I’ve taken to yelling “Squirrel!” at the teevee when opposing fielders are trying to catch fly balls……. (Nobody’s dropped one because of my interjections yet, but you never know.)

Anyway, say it now and say it loud:  GO, NATS!!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, nothing starts the morning quite like discovering the eldest gel doubled over with abdominal pain in her bed.

Since she has nothing in particular to do and nowhere to be today, and since her agony seemed to be genuine, the needle on ol’ Dad’s malinger-o-meter remained flat and I quickly decided this one was worth a trip to the emergency room,  visions of everything from food poisoning to appendicitis dancing in my head.  She and the middle gel went with a yoot group down to King’s Dominion yesterday and spent the afternoon stuffing themselves with carny food and hurling themselves about the skies in teh broiling heat, and my keen, (CSI-free!)  investigative sense immediately suggested that this was somewhere near the root of whatever ails her.

Well, Mrs. R and the gel are at the ER now, the latter with an IV in her arm and a scheduled sonogram.  Apparently, the lead theory at the moment is kidney stone resulting from dehydration.  Not life threatening, to be sure, but from all I’ve ever heard tell of kidneys stones, enough to make her wish she was dead.

I’ll let you know how it turns out.

UPDATE:  Well, the sonogram turned out negative and they’re going to go ahead and do a CT scan.

UPDATE DEUX:  Well, the CT spotted the problem, which I will only describe as a ladies’ complaint.  Nothing to be concerned about long-term, but the pain was quite legitimate.

Once again, Ol’ Robbo has put off having his hair trimmed well past the point at which his friends would have advised him to take action.  I’m not exactly Spinal Tap yet, but I would say that I am fast moving into Shaggy territory.  (Did you know that his “real” name was supposed to be Norville Rogers, btw?  Zoinks!)

The problem is that I become increasingly enervated the longer my hair gets.  Hence, the more I put off getting it cut, the harder it becomes to summon the willpower to actually do the deed.

The flip side of this is that when I do finally get round to getting the thatch hacked, it is immensely refreshing and energizing.  Indeed, I call the process a Reverse Samson.  (Well, not when anyone’s around to hear me.)  So I am looking forward to this evening happily.

Another reason for the length of time between prunings is that I don’t go to the barber shop round the corner, but instead to a genuine salon in the mall.  And all that mood lighting, modron design, Euro-funk musick and anorexia doesn’t exactly come cheap.

As a matter of fact, the same gal has been weed-whacking my skull for well over ten years now.  I even followed her from her prior salon to this one.  Now you may snicker all you want.  The fact of the matter is that the gal knows what she’s doing.  Nobody else has ever been able to produce the same results on the Robbo cranium.  And buh-lieve me, it needs all the help it can get.

UPDATE:  Whoops.  Robbo is incapable of using the word “cranium” without  this tripping off in his head:

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

There is a small mom & pop nursery down the road from the port swiller mansion, a place run by a pair of ancient and leathery hippies who I frequently see out laboring in the fields.   (They grow all of their own plants and flowers.   It’s endlessly fascinating to watch the cycle of the seasons reflected in the half acre or so that they farm.)

Because it’s the sort of place it is, this nursery also sports a fairly large menagerie of assorted dogs, cats and chickens. (Were one to go into the ramshackle house attached, one would no doubt also find things like turtles and hamsters.)

And because the living there is pretty loose, I have got used over the years to seeing a sign out at the road from time to time that reads “Free Kittens” in large, faded orange letters.

Well yesterday, as I drove by, I noticed that the sign had appeared again, but had also been subject to some clever emendation.  Across the faded orange word “Free”, there appeared in stark, black letters the word “Rescue”.

Evidently somebody has been honing their marketing skills.  Even Ol’ Robbo, who has sworn absolutely not even to think of bringing in more kittehs to the port swiller residence until the elderly of our two current occupants has shuffled off, could feel the seduction.



Hmm.  Regular friends of the decanter will recall that last Friday I posted a rayther lengthy piece based on a comment reportedly made by the crazed Colorado gunman’s mother when she was first contacted by the press.  For those of you too lazy to click back through and read it, she had said something to the reporters along the line of “Yes, you’ve got the right person”, the implication being that she wasn’t surprised at her son’s alleged involvement in the slaughter.

Well, now the family is saying that the press took the mother’s remark the wrong way:

An attorney representing the family of James Holmes, the man accused in Friday’s mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater, on Monday said his mother’s initial comment to ABC News on the morning of the shooting has been misconstrued.

Reading a statement she attributed to Arlene Holmes, San Diego-based attorney Lisa Damiani said Arlene Holmes’ comment “You have the right person” to an ABC reporter referred to herself, not James Holmes as some media have suggested.

As I said at the time, I simply didn’t know what to believe.  I still don’t.  This could be an instant of the lawyers doing some damage control.  On the other hand, the press really could have misinterpreted.  I’ve been part of several investigations and lawsuits in which the press have taken an interest, and I must say that their ability to get things flat wrong must never be underestimated.

(The post itself still stands, since it was about social doctrine, not the ins and outs of this situation.)

The following passage from Charles Portis’ True Grit describes the first time young Mattie Ross, Marshall “Rooster” Cogburn and Texas Ranger LaBouef meet face to face:

Rooster was eating candy.  He said, “Set down, sis, and have a piece of taffy.  This jaybird calls himself LaBoeuf.  He claims he is a State Ranger in Texas.  He come up here to tell us how the cow eat the cabbage.”

I said, “I know who he is.”

“He says he is on the track of our man.  He wants to throw in with us.”

“I know what he wants and I have already told him we are not interested in his help.  He has gone behind my back.”

“What is it?” said Rooster.  “What is the trouble?”

“There is no trouble except of his own making.” said I.  “He made a proposition and I turned it down.  That is all.  We don’t need him.”

“Well now, he might come in handy,” said Rooster.  “It will not cost us anything.  He has a big-bore Sharps carbine if we are jumped by buffaloes or elephants.  He says he knows how to use it.  I say let him go.  We might run into some lively work.”

“No, we don’t need him,” said I.  “I have already told him that.  I have got my horse and everything is ready.  Have you seen to all your business?”

Rooster said, “Everything is ready but the grub and it is working.  The chief deputy wanted to know who had done them [expense] sheets.  He said he would put you on down there at good wages if you wanted a job.  Potter’s wife is fixing the eats.  She is not what I call a good cook but she is good enough and she needs the money.”

LaBoeuf said, “I reckon I must have the wrong man.  Do you let little girls hooraw you, Cogburn?”

Rooster turned his cold right eye on the Texan.  “Did you say hooraw?”

“Hooraw,” said LaBoeuf.  “That was the word.”

“Maybe you would like to see some real hoorawing?”

“There is no hoorawing in it,” said I.  “The marshall is working for me.  I am paying him.”

There does not appear to be any definition of “hooraw” readily available on the intertoobs.  In this context, I take it to be an almost untranslatable term for bullying from a position of only apparent, without real, strength.  Thus, to me it also has underlying connotations of manipulation, bluster, deceit and false advantage.

At any rate, it is not at all lost on me that both Mattie from the book and the eldest of the port swiller gels are fourteen.   And I find that I have had to say something to Mrs. R along the lines of “That girl is trying to hooraw you” often enough that Mrs. R now knows exactly what I mean, and is indeed beginning to employ the word herself.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yesterday afternoon found ol’ Robbo down to the local community theatre, where he and the port swiller family attended a matinee performance of Legally Blonde –  The Musical.

I must say that I didn’t really have any idea what to expect.  (In fact, I’d forgotten that we had tickets at all until reminded of it early in the morning.)  I dimly remembered the Reese Witherspoon movie of the same name.  Air-headed Valley Girl, toy dog and hot-pink accessories in hand,  pursues ex-boyfriend to Harvard Law where, after initially making a fool of herself, she unexpectedly finds her inner strength and legal talent, and also recognizes her True Love (not the ex-b.f., who she finally sees as the toad he really was all along), while empowering those around her as need empowering, too.  Blah, blah, blah.  Harmless enough and, so far as I could remember, mildly amusing.


I must admit that in some respects, I actually found myself enjoying the show.  Some of the lyrics were pretty clever, and there was a running gag about the interaction between the Dumb Blonde and a Greek chorus (composed of the D.B.’s college sorority sisters – get it?) that made me smile.

On the other hand, I’m not sure this was the sort of thing to see having come straight from Mass, and I’m especially not sure it was the sort of thing my little troupe of adolescent and pre-adolescent gels ought to have been watching anyway.   Much raunchy language and sexually suggestive choreography of what one might call the “blatantly obvious” sort.   (When one comes to think about it, isn’t there a certain ridiculousness to using such techniques to tell what is supposed to be a story about a woman breaking free of such objectification?  Or am I reading too much into this?)

Ol’ Robbo is hardly a prude, but he nonetheless got pretty uncomfortable in a few spots.  And he found it worrisome that, from what he could tell, nobody else in the audience seemed to be particularly phased.   As for the gels, well, once you realize that you’ve been asleep on guard duty and the orcs have crawled under the wall through the field drain, there’s not much to do but grab your axe and drive them out again, at the same time putting on a brave face and not showing panic.  Indeed, afterward I said pretty much the same thing to them I’m posting here (except, of course, my admission that I should have been paying closer attention to begin with).


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July 2012