Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo isn’t exactly back to peak efficiency, but I at least have steam up and my helm is answering, so it seems to me that I ought to have a go at tossing out at least a few random thoughts and observations.

♦   The ‘flu is still making a pest of itself at Port Swiller Manor, although everybody managed to get out the door this morning.   The Middle Gel’s sole motivation for doing so was the fact that she got a call-back to a play for which she had auditioned at school, and we made it abundantly clear that missing the school day also meant missing the callback.  Grumble, grumble, but whatever works, right?

♦  As Jay Nordlinger would say, how about a little language?   First, I see the ghost of that rat-bastard Uncle Joe Stalin is raising its frightful head again among the good citizens of Volgagrad.  I would suggest that these people might want to think twice about what spirits they choose to summon up from the pits.  Second, it appears a local advertising campaign has been launched to “take back” the word “Jihad”.   I’ve nothing particular to say about it in itself, but imagine the howls of indignation from the arbiters of correctness were one to substitute the word “Crusade”.   (And speaking of which, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary actually gives the second definition of “jihad” as “a crusade for a principle or belief.”  Tone-deaf, anybody?)

♦  Today is the anniversary of the birth, in 1797, of Franz Schubert.  Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate his musick more and more, although I still believe he never really got his orchestral-sized stuff under proper control.  (Yes, yes, I know that he was terrified of Beethoven, he died young and didn’t get the chance, yadda, yadda, yadda.)  However, my email quote-of-the-day guy mentions that this quote has been attributed to the man:  “No one understands another’s grief, no one understands another’s joy…  My music is the product of my talent and my misery.  And that which I have written in my greatest  distress is what the world seems to like the best.”

To quote Tom Magliozzi, “Aw, Jeez.”  We hates that kind of pompous, self-centered romantic clap-trap!  This isn’t a dig at Schubert in particular, but at the whole bloody lot of artístes from that period up to and including Percy “Bysshe” Shelley.  (I got yer unacknowledged legislators right here, pal.)   It seems to me that such bloviating was usually nothing more than cover for some very naughty behavior.  (College kids, of course, still use this technique.)

♦  Speaking of naughty behavior, I don’t yet know what to make of the accusation that Robbo’s beloved Nat pitching ace Gio Gonzales might be mixed up with illegal performance-enhancement drugs.   Especially after my recent comments about the fall from grace of Lance Armstrong, regular friends of the decanter might be tempted to pelt ol’ Robbo with walnut shells if I were to come out and state categorically my belief that Gio is innocent.   However, I am still very much giving him the benefit of the doubt, especially as what little evidence has been brought to light and its source both seem somewhat squirrely.  We shall see, I guess.

♦  Also speaking of naughty behavior, it boggles the mind a bit that we are less than two weeks away from Lent.   This year ol’ Robbo, inspired by Father McA’s recent homily, has decided to get an early jump on things by getting into the observance of Septuagesima and “Pre-Lent”.  To this end, instead of going out with a bang on Mardi Gras, he’s already dialing back on his personal indulgences and starting to read literature suitable to the season.  My big project for Lent, in addition to my stable of regulars, is to tackle St. Francis de Sales’ Treatise on the Love of God.  I’ll let you know what I think.

So there you are.

UPDATE:  Oh, I forgot to mention, Happy Birthday, Milwaukee!  I was just reading up on the great Milwaukee Bridge War of 1845 between the good citizens of Juneautown and Kilbournetown (shades of Springfield and Shelbyville?), the resolution of which lead to the unification of the City on this day in 1846.   Cheers!