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From The Telegraph, we have a report of the usurpation of the chocky Advent calendar:

The chocolate advent calendar is falling out of fashion as shoppers buy up Lego calenders and make-your-own sets.

John Lewis today said its customers “seemed keen” to purchase alternatives with the Lego Friends advent calender one of the best-sellers over the past week.

Andrew Murphy, retail director, told The Daily Telegraph: “I wouldn’t say it’s the death of the chocolate advent calender but they have certainly passed their peak.

“Speaking as a Dad, there’s just chocolate at every turn now, and I think parents are feeling there’s going to be chocolate everywhere, they don’t really need it in a calender before breakfast.”

Lego Friends” Advent calendar?  Apparently, yes.

The Lego calendar costs £14.39 and contains tiny Lego gifts, allowing children to “build the holiday story” of Stephanie, a Lego Friends character, on her journey to a Christmas market.

Wait, the “holiday story” is all about “journeying” to a “Christmas market“?  Oh, dear.  Evidently, I’ve been reading the wrong books, because my understanding of Advent doesn’t really include anything having to do with commerce or consumerism.

Sigh.

Ol’ Robbo is not necessarily opposed to Advent calendars per se.  But he adamantly objects to such calendars when they serve no function other than as treat-laden count-downs to the Christmas morning deluge.   Advent, as I understand it, is something rayther resembling Lent, a time of abstinence and reflection.  In my experience, candy and treat-stocked calendars do nothing more than heighten the spirit of gimme-gimme-gimme.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo had quite the series of bizarre dreams last evening.

In one, I went to see my beloved Nats play the Phillies.  At some point, looking about the park, I noticed a Soviet flag flying from one of the staffs out beyond center field.  This puzzled me mightily.  The next thing I knew, it was time for the seventh inning stretch.  A famous Russian opera star was to sing the “Star-Spangled Banner”.  (Yes, I know.  But as I say, this was a dream.)  At the line, “That our flag was still there,” he sang instead, “That our flag wasn’t there”.  I started chewing on this because it didn’t sound right, but just as I was about to say something, the singer broke down completely, first misspeaking, then mumbling, then storming off the field in a huff.   The scoreboard carried a view of him marching back to his dressing room, muttering to himself about disgrace and dishonor and the insult to the crowd of not knowing what he was about.   (And no, his name was not Enrico Palazzovitch.)

There was so much confusion that the umpire decided to call the game.  (The Nats won.)  As I made my way out, I ran into George Costanza and told him all about what had happened.

In another, Mrs. R and I, together with some friends of ours, went to see a Dolphins game.  In real life, these friends have an infant son.  In my dream, he was our infant son.  It was very clear to me that he wasn’t a replacement for one of the gels, but instead represented Child No. 4.  All I recall is that I held him most of the time and that it was cold out.  He was naked and at some point it occurred to me that he really ought to be covered up, so we wrapped him in one of those kiddie bath towels with the little animal-themed head cover at one corner.  (I believe it was a frog.)  Perhaps we could have called him Robbo Incognito?

In the third, I went to a PDQ Bach concert.  I was carrying a folding chair, apparently fearful that I’d have no place to sit otherwise.  However, there were plenty of seats available.  A few minutes later, a woman sat down next to me carrying a large shopping bag.  She said she hoped I didn’t mind its rattling and crackling.  I said that if she could put up with my folding chair (which was leaning against my arm rest) then I could put up with her bag.  She then told me that her cousin was one of the violinists and that he had been traveling for years doing PDQ Bach.

And then, as they say, I woke up.

Messages?  Meanings?  The only one I can derive is don’t put so much garlic in the steak rub next time.

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