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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo hasn’t much to say this evening except that I completely and utterly ignored the Oscars and everything associated with them with a sense of personal smugness just this side of the smackable.

Also, it seems a swarm of hornets have decided to set up shop in my nose.  Drippy, oozy hornets at that.  Not fun.  A glass of sherry is a recognized specific for treating these sinus things, isn’t it?  Well, it ought to be.

Anyhoo, my main reason for this post is that I wanted to alert all you friends of the decanter that I have finally, after four and a half years here, set up a new inbox for those of you who care to correspond other than in the bright lights of the comment section.  You can now get me at noheeltaps -AT-  Feel free to toss whatever questions, suggestions, links or thoughts you like into the box.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

So it seems that the Disney Death Star may be tractoring Mark Hamill in to reprise his role as Luke Skywalker in the new series of Star Wars sequels.  I can just see it:

Eh?  Who was on the com link?  Oh, it was just the kids again, calling from the Academy.  How were they? Pah! Same as usual! Bitch, bitch, bitch!  Moan, moan, moan!  Gimme, gimme, gimme!

“The Next Hope.”  “The New Generation.” Feh!  Why, if the Temple had been stocked with kids like that when Dad came to clean house that time, Yoda’d have held his coat and cheered him on!  By the Great Will-Obeying Midi-Chlorians! I know I was a hay-seed dope when I was a kid, but these guys?  If we’d had to rely on their type back then, Yavin would have a dust ring where our old base used to orbit!  Hoth would be known as the central supply base for the Empire’s snow-cone monopoly!  Hell, we’d still be wandering lost in the Endoran woods and all them damned Ewoks would be throw-rugs in the Emperor’s dacha!  

Well, okay, I gotta admit that last part wouldn’t have been so bad….

Still….Dang whippersnappers!  Spoiled as garbage-masher bait and shifty as Jawas!  In my day, I did three times the training they did..after milking a hundred tauntauns and marching thirty miles through the snow-covered swamps of Dagobah!  Uphill!  Both ways!

But just listen to ’em!

“Daddy, the reason I’m failing Force 201 is because my Jedi Master won’t let me express myself!”

 “Dad, could you send me some more credits?  Like real soon?  You see, my ‘friend’ Jabba, Jr., needs them – it has to do with this dead cert for the 3:00 speeder race that kinda came unstuck……

 “Dad, what did Aunt Leia do with that slave girl costume, again?”  (‘History project’ my bionic hand!)

By Chewie’s Beard!  I tell ya, it’s like their collective ego is one giant black hole, sucking everything else in the galaxy right into it!  And where does it get us?  Are we turning out model Jedi?  Hell, no!  Of course not!  Hit the side of a planet with a Death Star ray?  Why, they  couldn’t hit their own asses with both hands and a light-saber!  If the ghost of Jar-Jar Binks came back at the head of an army of teletubbies and smurfs, he’d clean the Republic’s clock in less than a week!  And good riddance, I says!

May the Great Unspecified, Vaguely-Deistic Maker help us!  I oughta get my lawyer on the com RIGHT NOW and change my will to give everything to that home for displaced Sand People!  In fact, I think I’ll do just that…….

Uh, hey, wait….what’s going on out there!  Gol-durn it, it’s them dang Boba-Fettlings messing around again!  HEY, YOU KIDS!  GIT OFF’N MY HYPERLAWN!

I’d almost pay money to watch this.

For those of you port swillers looking for a nice Lenten memento and a worthy cause as well, may I direct your attention to Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey?  It’s a Benedictine monastery in the Tulsa diocese.

Ol’ Robbo belongs to a little group of bacon-loving morons on Facebook, one of whom recently noted that the good monks hand-make a line of rosaries and icons.  Ol’ Robbo’s only rosary to date is a plastic-beaded BXVI model he picked up in his parish bookstore a year or two after swimming the Tiber while he was still trying to wrap his head around the whole rosary practice.  It serves, of course, and has sentimental value but, well, I always thought I could do a leetle better than that once I got the hang of things……  So, upon receiving said tip, I immediately nipped over and bought myself this nifty olive-wood rosary (with Our Father beads and crucifix made from Holy Land olive wood):


(I know, you can’t make out much from this lame pic copy.  Jump on over to the linky to get a better dekko.)

It just arrived this afternoon and I must say that it’s quite handsome.  Best of all, they come pre-blessed (unless otherwise requested), so you don’t have to run a padre to earth in order to get yours activated.

Plus, of course, by buying one, I’m doing my little bit to help out the brothers.

We have been doing a certain amount of reorganization-cum-spring cleaning around Port Swiller Manor of late.  One of the results of this effort is the discovery by ol’ Robbo that we seem to have rayther a largish collection of what they like to call “parenting” books.  Disbursed hither and yon about the house they never brought themselves to my notice before, but placed all together on the same shelves, well, they kinda add up.

Not that I’ve ever read any of them, of course, nor do I plan to.  In the matter of raising children (as it is properly termed), my brief experience of What to Expect When You’re Expecting-type literature convinced me of the dangers of becoming too enslaved to such guides and being turned by their myriad conflicting suggestions, prompts and warnings into a twitching, neurotic basket-case.  Instead, I’ve always preferred the hands-on empirical method.  Even when I make a mistake, I’m at least able to keep my sanity.

But that’s not why I mention this collection.  No, instead, it’s for a much simpler and light-hearted reason.  To wit:

Whilst skimming over the various volumes, most of which having dreary names such as The Seven Worst Things (Good) Parents Do and Chicken Soup for the Preteen Soul, I stumbled across one that had me doubled over, hooting with laughter:

GET OUT OF MY LIFE! (But First Could You Drive Me And Cheryl To The Mall?) – A Parent’s Guide To The New Teenager,  by Anthony E. Wolf.

As I say, I haven’t read the book.  But that title!  That, IMHO, is teh goods.  That’s funny.  That nails it in one.   And oddly enough, it’s really most of what  you need in order to keep your perspective when dealing with said teenagers.   (And I can personally vouch that when one of them is on a tirade and the title wanders into your brain causing you to involuntarily start snickering, it drives them absolutely nuts!)

I pass it on for what it’s worth.  Share and enjoy!

And speaking of which, I couldn’t help noticing that a book which I have, indeed, read and which is another great perspective-booster also made it on to this shelf:  Daddy Needs A Drink by Rob Wilder.   It’s a collection of humorous essays about dealing with small children, but I think the title carries over well to the more advanced years, too.   Well worth a couple bob for those of you now dealing with sippy cups and core-breach diapers and who could use a good laugh.  (Full disclosure:  Wilder was a year behind me in college.  I didn’t really know him, but he was a friend of friends.  I’d still recommend the book regardless.)


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

How about a little Friday Random?  For your convenience, I’ve divided it up into not-so-random sections this time.  Feel free to skip around:

Part The First, di Chiesa:

♦   Those of you who might have glanced at my post immediately below about lack of sleep and fiddling with my Lenten practices might like to know the sequel:  Well, I avoided the temptation to hoist a medicinal nightcap after all.  Instead, I just toughed it out, got another bad night’s sleep Wednesday, carried through with work and exercise yesterday — and dozed off in my comfy chair over a book last evening,  getting a really good night’s sleep.  Go figure.

♦    I went to noon Mass on Wednesday in part because it’s Lent, in part because I’ve been wondering whether I had ought to step up to twice a week on a full-time basis.  (I don’t think I could become a daily communicant, at least not until I’m a retired old fart.)  This time I thought I would try a church quite near my office, of which I had heard some good things.  Imagine my surprise when I walked in and realized that I had actually been to a wedding there about seven or eight years ago.   With five years of Catholicism under my belt, it had quite a different feel about it than it did back then.

♦   Speaking of which, I’ve no real new thoughts on the Papal succession except to note that, in offering its own helpful suggestions, what the MSM really wants HMC to do is to simply abandon  Christianity and instead embrace the secular “culture”.  Even an ignoramus like me recalls that one of the three temptations laid before Jesus was the domination of all the World on the sole condition that He bow down in worship of Satan. I can see that this is, in effect, exactly the same thing, but about 90% of the general population, were I to point it out, would look at me like I had a hole in my head and start making snarky comments about snake-handling.  That’s why I hope that the Holy Ghost and the Cardinals between them, above all else, elevate a new Pontiff who can make these arguments in a language the wider world will understand.

Part The Second, di Camera:

♦     Robbo is still having trouble adjusting to this iMac on which he is now typing in the Port Swiller Manor study.  The thing still has a disconcerting habit of suddenly throwing my page off the screen or blowing up the font or asking me if I’d like to take a break from all that boring old writing and look at some new widgets.  (We hates machines that try to anticipate our every thought and desire.  Damned impertinence!)   I also still haven’t figured out what makes the scroll bar on the right hand side come and go, nor do I yet know how to download pictures.   If I remember rightly, the Dell system we bought back around 2000 or so came with an owner’s operating guide the size of a 747 flight manual.  All we got with the Mac was a little pamphlet that tells you absolutely….nada.

♦     Speaking of the chilling march of the computers, the middle gel was having some trouble converting an Excel spreadsheet into a graph for a homework assignment the other morning.  When she asked me for help, the sordid truth came out:  I have always studiously avoided learning Excel in all of its manifestations and don’t have the faintest idea how to put it through even the most rudimentary of its paces.   All I could say  was “Better ask your teacher.”

♦     Speaking of helplessness, the HVAC fellah was out this morning to inspect the Port Swiller furnace.  I hate these visits, because they always seem to reveal some previously unknown glitch or problem with the inner workings of the place.  Today, for instance, the furnace turned out to be just fine.  (As it ought to be, just having been put in two years ago.)  But the fellah also noted that the old water heater is getting extremely long in the tooth, and that there are various bits and pieces in the system that are no longer up to code.   Sigh.  As Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say, if it ain’t one thing, it’s another.

♦    And finally, in case you’re interested, yes, ol’ Robbo has received from his Uncle a notice of proposed furlough in the event Sequestraggedon becomes a reality.  My reaction?  Well first, call me dubious that it really will  come to pass.  Even now I sense the Body Politicke pulling back its collective foot to kick that particular can further down the road.  But if worse comes to naught?  Let it burn.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

My apologies to those two or three of you still loitering over the decanter and waiting for ol’ Robbo to serve up some table-thumping diatribe on such topics as take his fancy, but I did warn that I would be curtailing such activities during Lent.

Now that we’re a week into the season and the programme of abstinence, reflection and devotions is rolling into high gear, I am reaching that traditional point where I wonder whether I had ought to tinker with it.

You see, not only has ol’ Robbo parted from teh grape until Easter (well, barring Sundays of course), but I’ve also axed both teevee and musicke.

This makes the long evenings, well, long.

You might say that I ought to devote the time to improving readings.  I would answer that I, in fact, do so, but that one can only take in so much GKC, Newman and Cardinal Ratzinger at a time, especially after a  day’s labor, before one’s eyes start to flutter.

You might then say that I ought then to go to bed early.  I would answer that I, in fact, have been doing so, but that once I actually insert the person between the sheets, I find myself ironically wide awake.  The alteration in diet that comes with the season always has a radical effect on Robbo’s sleeping patterns, making his slumbers much shallower and his dreams much more vivid, while also causing long periods of wakefulness.  (The same sort of thing happens whenever I’m traveling on biz nay.)  And it doesn’t help that our elderly cat has taken to the habit of yowling at the top of her lungs in the middle of the night, demanding that somebody pet her.

The upshot is a certain amount of exhaustion on my part.  Thus the urge to tinker:  I gotta get some sleep!

On the other hand, I remind myself that Billy Joel once said, “Don’t forget your second wind.”  (Indeed, once that damned tune wandered into my head, I couldn’t get it out again.  Somebody please make it go away!)

So for now, I’ll probably just stick with things as they are and see if I can’t just power through until Sunday.

There’s a fellah lives down the street from Port Swiller Manor who, every election cycle, comes round armed with a clipboard full of Donk campaign bumf – biographical material, position statements, pledge lists, that sort of thing.

Today, abandoning his usual candidate-hawking in order to get all cause-y instead, he came round with a petition to our local Congresscritter which he wished me to sign.  Glancing over it, I saw expressions such as “limit magazine capacity” and “assault weapon” and so on.  Yes, the man had caught Gun Control Fevah.

Very, very briefly I toyed with the idea of picking an argument, reminding him of the Constitutional limitations on guvmint power, asking him why on earth I would support measures to limit the ability of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves from marauders who don’t give a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys about what the law says, suggesting that he was a dupe for certain cynical, grand-standing politicians.

But I’m really just too nice a guy for that.  (Besides, he’s just a harmless albeit misguided old coot.  If he were some young, pierced, smarmy punk, I’d have been much less magnanimous.)

So instead, I simply smiled serenely as I handed the clipboard back to him and said, “Oh, I couldn’t possibly sign something like this.  But thanks for asking, anyway!”

Well, if looks could kill.  For an instant, I thought the guy was going to haul off and slug me.  But he thought better of it and instead, sniffing, turned and stalked off.

And that, children, is how you administer the cut polite.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers, and happy Presidents’ Day!

For the record, ol’ Robbo is on the side of those who believe that the transmogrification of the celebration of the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln into a celebration of the office which they held is a sad mistake.  Why? Because now -at least by association – we’re forced to honor**   not only the truly greats like Washington and Lincoln, but also the forgettable (Franklin Pierce and that other guy), the awful (LBJ, Carter) and the outright satanic (Wilson and , well, you know…)  Cheapens the whole thing, as far as I’m concerned.

But Tom, you say, in a nation founded on the principle of the Rule of Law, isn’t it better not to idolize an individual in this way?  Surely we don’t want the gubmint promoting any cults of personality?

I dunno.  Go ask Dr. King.  And don’t call me Shirley.

I bring him up because today always reminds me that King is now the only actual individual human being person recognized by a federal holiday.  I’ve nothing against the man, you understand.  Indeed, I think he was admirable.  (I also think he’d be appalled by what’s been done with his legacy, but that’s a different matter.  When Chris Rock used to be funny, he had some advice for anyone who finds themselves standing on any street named Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard or the like:  Ruuuuuun!!!)

Anyhoo, I had a friend in law school who had a peculiar way of marking this oddity of (what else?) modern politicks.  He would never, ever refer to King as “Dr. King” or “MLK” or use some other foreshortened form of the name.  Instead, he always insisted on using the full Homeric tag of  “the-slain-civil-rights-leader-the-Reverened-Dr.-Martin-Luther-King-Junior“.  It was quite amusing to see the look of bafflement that would flash across the faces of his interlocutors, especially the liberal ones, when he did this.

By the bye and speaking of governmental matters, not to be depressing or anything, but a glass of wine with Ace for coining what I think is a perfect tag for the current electorate:  the Honey Boo Bourgeoisie.



**Well.  I’d probably be a good deal more riled about this if I was actually “forced” to do anything, instead of, like most people (I suspect), viewing the day as nothing more than an opportunity to sleep in late on a Monday.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, it’s the first Saturday after Ash Wednesday, and the initial shock of ol’ Robbo’s Lenten abstinences (specifically, his giving up of the gargle) is starting to wear off a bit, so how about a bit of random?

♦   I have been following the MSM’s reaction to the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI and its collective opinion of who should replace him and Where The Church Should Go In The Future.   All I can say, apart from the fact that most of the opinion seems to be based on blatant and willful pig-ignorance, is that for all the arguments these people are making about the need for Rome to recognize this is the 21st Century and the Future is Now, the overall tone of this criticism is downright….Jacobin.  (And I presume you know what that unfortunate movement led to?)  One can almost picture, say, Maureen Dowd sitting in the shadow of the guillotine, knitting.

♦   Anyhoo, as something of a personal tribute to the man, I went out and purchased this week a B-16 bobble head, which I intend to place on my office shelf among those of George Washington, Nats’ 2nd Baseman Danny Espinoza and colonial heroine Hannah Dustan.  (Call it a very, very small act of, well, tugging on Caesar’s toga.)

♦  I had a dream last night that I was some kind of military leader in Mexico in the 1800’s and I was facing a large crowd of peasants eager to take on the government troops.  I recall that I was haranguing them, insisting that I would not take command unless they absolutely swore to obey my orders.  I said that I had seen what professional troops did to unorganized rabble and that the only chance the peasants had against them was to submit to the discipline of military training.   I recall being quite choked up while giving this speech.  In the end, I believe they agreed.

♦  No, I don’t know what it means, either.  Except Viva, Roberto!

♦  I see that the daffodils in front of Port Swiller Manor are beginning to form buds.  Looks like Snow Miser has taken a powder yet again this year.  For some reason, I can’t say that I’m particularly disappointed.

♦  Speaking of natural phenomena, I’m sorry that all those Siberians got cut up when that meteorite hit yesterday morning, but have you seen the videos of that thing?  Was it not the coolest, evah?  I must say that I have a new-found respect for the Hollywood special effects crowd, because it looked….just like a movie.

♦   I have to ask, though:  What is it with the Russkies and dash-mounted cameras?  They all seem to have them:  In the past couple months I’ve seen plane crashes, lightning strikes and now a meteor crash, all courtesy of some Russian dash-camera.

♦  Finally, a bit of musicke?  T’other day the middle gel was telling me how much she enjoyed the Dvorák Humoresque she had downloaded on her i-Thingy.   I had to smile to myself:  When I was in 7th grade, I recall being infatuated with Schumann’s 4th Symphony and listening over and over again to a very bad cassette recording I had made from an LP record.

♦   Apple?  Tree.  Oh, I see you two already know each other…..

UPDATE:  From Father Z’s Cafe Press collection, we wants one!







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February 2013