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[F]or the first time, Teddy Roosevelt won the fourth-inning Presidents Race. Yes, after more than 500 attempts since the popular race debuted at RFK Stadium in the summer of 2006, the giant-headed mascot depicting the 26th President finally crossed the finish line first.

The moment came Wednesday afternoon, during the regular-season finale against Washington’s longtime nemesis, the Philadelphia Phillies.

Wearing a red headband and bright gold shoes modeled after those made famous by world’s fastest man Usain Bolt, Teddy got off to a slow start, trailing Abe, then Jefferson, then Washington.

But a green blob intended to resemble the Phillie Phanatic felled the three leaders in the right field corner, and Roosevelt strolled home by himself as the crowd roared and began chanting his name (really).

He then ripped off his usual jersey, revealing a red “Natitude” t-shirt, and soaked in the cheers.

What else is there to say except, “BULLY!!!”

(For those friends of the decanter who have no idea what I’m talking about, go here.  I’ve got two different bumper stickers, one on the Wrangler, the other on my bulletin board.  Now that the streak has been snapped, I suppose they’ll become quite valuable.)

UPDATE:  In the second-most important victory of the afternoon, Robbo’s beloved Nats beat the Phils 5-1, thereby winning their series and locking up the best season record in the National League plus home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Wow, what a ride.  What else is there to say but, “GO, NATS!!!”

Have you lot been following the story the last day or two of The Weather Channel’s unilateral decision to start naming winter storms?  The rest of the meteorological community is (insert Mr. Worf voice here)……displeased.

Not at the idea of naming blizzards in and of itself, you understand, just that TWC went to full imperial mode by introducing  the new regime without bothering to coordinate with anyone else first.

I used to love TWC back when it actually, you know, focused on presenting the weather.  (Well, okay, I kinda liked the weather babes, too.)  But ever since it decided to amp up its programming to include all those “human interest” storm story shows, eco-disaster doom and gloom exposes,  third-tier celebrity morning hosts and other rating stunt whatnot, to say nothing of the ubiquitous Jim “Mimbo” Cantori*  appearing everywhere a single snow flake or raindrop dares show itself, it seems to me to have transmogrified into something of a parody of its original self.  And it also seems that the arrogance accompanying this change has finally gotten to be too much for its colleagues in the weather biznay.

Personally, I find this kerfluffle to be intensely amusing.

It is rarely that I recommend a book sight-unseen, but this is the exception to the rule.

A couple days ago as we were having our usual Sunday afternoon chin-wag, the Mothe put me on to the fact that a new book by Charles Portis has come out.  Entitled Escape Velocity:  A Charles Portis Miscellany, it is a collection of articles, short stories, travelogues and other whatnot, very much of the same flavor (so I’m told) as his novels – offbeat, insightful, deadpan and at times insane.

Being easily seduced, I immediately scurried over to the devil’s website and bought my own copy.  You should, too.

What? You haven’t read Charles Portis?  Get thee over there! Get thee over there right now!

Friends of the decanter are no doubt asking themselves, “Self, is Robbo going to watch the presidential debate this evening?”

Well, the answer is almost certainly no.  I made up my mind about things quite a long time ago, so the persuasion element simply isn’t in play.   I suppose there’s what one might call the NASCAR angle – watching for the wrecks – but that has little appeal to me, either.

But the main reason I don’t intend to watch is that I absolutely refuse to let the cymbal-clashing echo monkeys into Port Swiller Manor to tell me What To Look For and Who Won and What It All Means.

Message to the CCEM’s: Ah fahrt in your general direction! Your mother was a hamstair ahnd your father smelt of elderberries!  Now go away or ah will taunt you a second time-ah!

As a matter of fact, I’ve a copy of The Expendables from Netflix, which I’ve not seen before, looking for an excuse to be watched.  This looks like as good a one as any.

Forehead? Meet keyboard!

Damon Albarn and Terry Gilliam are leading a campaign to attract more young people to the opera, encouraging first-time attendees to wear jeans and trainers and promising them “club-style bars”.

The pair are the public faces of Undress for the Opera, a new scheme launched by the English National Opera which will introduce new audiences to La Traviata and Don Giovanni.

Ticket prices for special performances will be cheaper than usual – £25 for the best seats in the house, which can cost £100 on regular nights – and will include an invitation to a post-show party with cast and company members.

Bars at the London Coliseum will be transformed for the evening, with beer promotions and specially-themed cocktails.

Newcomers will also be able to download a synopsis of the opera beforehand, which comes with a tongue-in-cheek guide to opera etiquette written by Terry Gilliam.

And if that doesn’t work, they can put up a sign reading, “No Shoes? No Shirt? No Problem!”

Wouldn’t it be grand if, instead of dumbing down and casualizing the hell out of everything in order to get teh kids to show some interest, we instead focused our energies on instilling in them the sense that, yes, there are times when it is appropriate and desirable to be on our best behavior, to dress up, to take things to a higher level of dignity, and that these things actually add to the meaning of the experience? (The story is about opera  – and I wouldn’t sit through La Traviata even if allowed to do so in a muumuu – but I’m thinking of the more general application of the principle.)

Is that a-tall realistick or is ol’ Robbo just chowing down on too big a plate of pie-in-the-sky?

(I like the idea about the reduced price tickets, however, because the truth is that major league opera is too damned expensive.  I’ve lived in the DeeCee area for twenty years and haven’t been to the Kennedy Center more than a handful of times because of the prohibitive cost.)


In keeping with Mr. Dennis Coot John Keats’ season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, a fog rolled into the Port Swiller neck of the woods yesterday afternoon and as of this morning is still here.  Let’s go to the videotape:

Robbo has always been very fond of fog and the way in which it blurs the world.  When the sharp edge is taken off of reality, there is much more room for unexpected, even magical possibilities.  It’s true that those possibilities, as portrayed in books and movies, very often turn out to be nasty – Barrow-Wights or chainsaw-wielding psychopaths, for instance.  But then again, you never know when said fog might also produce, say, Ilsa Lund desperate to get those letters of transit and willing to do anything for them.

Hey, it could happen.

I recall driving down to South Carolina from Dubyunell one Thanksgiving.  North of the Blue Ridge, the pre-dawn sky was relatively clear.  However, when I crested the mountains on I-77 near Galax, I found myself looking down on the top of a thick layer, rosy red in the rising sun, that spread to the horizon in all directions.  Coming down the southern slope I plunged headlong into it and was socked in all the way to Hilton Head.

Well, I guess I’ll get back to waiting for Ilsa now….

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Every now and again ol’ Robbo finds himself in a discussion of the question whether it would be better to lose one’s sight or one’s hearing.  I always reply that I’d much rayther be blind than deaf, in part because I’m nearly blind already but mostly because I couldn’t bear the idea of not being able to hear things like musick or the world around me.   This response very often surprises people, most of whom have the opposite preference.

Well what do you know but somebody has just come out with a book backing up my argument:

In The Universal Sense, Seth Horowitz makes a compelling case for our most underrated sense

WOULD you rather be blind or deaf? You would probably quickly and fervently answer that you’d rather be deaf, if you really had to choose. Vision is too dear to most people. Hearing on the other hand… well, it’s boring.

This is a misconception that neuroscientist Seth Horowitz knocks down in The Universal Sense, in which he sings the praises of this underrated sense.

The most frequent argument for hearing’s importance to humans is that it is fundamental to our most valued talents and pastimes – speech and music. That justification, however, is problematic. The sensation of hearing is universal among vertebrates, but the use of it for speech and music is uniquely human. What else, then, does hearing offer?

Horowitz shows that there’s so much more. Taking examples from the animal kingdom, he explains how hearing connects creatures to all the world’s good vibrations. From blackboard scrapes to bats that can hear sounds mere nanometres long, he leads us on a canal tour through the ear. Though the book reads a little like a sequence of field trips, Horowitz recounts fascinating anecdotes of how hearing can tell us a great deal about the world – whether or not we are paying attention.

Ha!  (Although I don’t see why love of musick should be a problematic justification.  What’s wrong wi’d human values, if I ain’t bein’ too inquisitive?  I want to glory in the works of  Bach.  I don’t give a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys whether other vertebrates hear him or not.)

Nonetheless, I see what he means about sound enhancing our experience of the world.  One of my own environmental awareness anecdotal examples (that Horowitz may use in the next edition of his book if he finds it fascinating enough) has to do with driving.  As regular friends of the decanter might be aware, it has always been my policy to keep the sides and back off my Wrangler as long as the weather permits.  (With the heater cranked, I can keep the back flap rolled up in all but the harshest snow storms, much to the annoyance of my children.)  And in the open air, I have become accustomed to listening to the traffic around me as another way of keeping track of it.   Even if I can’t see that guy in my blind spot, I can still hear him.  Whenever I am forced to seal off the cockpit, and whenever I’m driving another car like the Port Swiller Honda Juggernaut®, it always takes me a bit to get used to not hearing what’s going on around me so well.

Mayhaps it’s because I’m such an aural-centric (boy, that sounds a lot dirtier than it is) that I am also particularly sensitive to noise pollution.  I have an especially hard time at parties and the like – full of musick and chatter – trying to pick out what anyone is saying to me.  I sometimes wonder whether I’m automatically trying to listen to everything at once and, as a result, actually being unable to process any of it.  The result is that I usually just give up and tune out, squinting vacantly into the offing.  I’m not very good at parties.



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October 2012