You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2014.

Nats HatGreetings, my fellow port swillers!’

After he arrived home at Port Swiller Manor and showered up this evening, ol’ Robbo donned his curly-W  jersey and his vintage No. 44 Adam Dunn t-shirt in tribute to the fact that his beloved Nats played their first spring-training game this afternoon.  Without checking, I’d been rayther hoping that the game, which was broadcast live, might be replayed this evening.  (Alas, no such luck.  Instead, MASN is running another “Nationals Classic” rerun.  I’ve found that these are profoundly disappointing.  If I already know who is going to win, what do I care?)

Checking up on the innertoobs, FWIW, I find that the Nats came back and defeated the Mets 5-4.   Who the heck is Michael Taylor?

Anyhoo, because Major League Baseball is now getting in to gear after its long hibernation, and because teh gels are hogging the Port Swiller teevee watching some feel-good movie about a blinded Olympic skater who turns up trumps, I will now take advantage of the moment to offer my prognostication about the Nats’ upcoming season.  And here it is:

Beats me.

You see, we face a real conundrum.   The roster itself, from pitchers to starting line-up to bench to bullpen, is pretty damned solid.  We’ve chucked some glaring mistakes in the off-season (yeah, I’m looking at you, Dan Haren), and got some sweet potential instead (Doug Fister as your fourth guy, anyone?)  Most of these folk have been here a couple years now, and the newbies represent important plugs where we’ve had weaknesses in the past.

To me, the real wild-card is our new skipper, Matt Williams. Although a clutch player himself, this is his first gig as a Major League manager.  His reputation is for being all about organization and intensity.  After all, one of his nicknames is “The Big Marine.”  My fret over the offseason has been about the interconnection between Williams and the prevailing culchah in the Nats’ dugout.   If they mesh, I think the Nats are poised to rock the NL East.  If not, it might get ugly.

Hookay, here we go.

On the basis of nothing but my gut, I will predict this:  Robbo’s beloved Nats win something between 90 and 95 games during the season and take teh NL East championship.   (Suck it, Atlanta!)  We will, by hook and crook, scuff our way through to bagging the NL Championship and will go to the Series.   What we do there?   I just don’t know.  So, there.

What else is there to say, but:


N.C. Wyeth, "Last of the Mohicans" illustration, 1917.

N.C. Wyeth, “Last of the Mohicans” illustration, 1917.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Prompted by catching AMC’s umpteenth re-showing of Braveheart t’other evening, ol’ Robbo started to write a post on the predictability of Mel Gibson movie characters, but after re-reading the draft, I decided that my insights were so bloody obvious that they would insult the collective intelligence of my fellow port swillers.  So consider yourselves spared.

In keeping with the theme of big-budget 90’s historickal beefcake films, however, I will note instead that, following up on my recent re-enjoyment of Francis Parkman’s history of French and British colonial history in North America, I’ve chucked Last of the Mohicans into the ol’ Netflix queue again.

Friends of the decanter might be puzzled by this.  After all,  said movie makes a complete hash of James Fenimore Cooper’s novel – the wrong couples get together, the wrong characters live and die and the movie’s Major Hayward is teleported in from the Bearded-Spock Universe – and we all know what Robbo thinks of movie bowderlizations of cherished books.   (Peter Jackson, for example, is going straight to hell.)

So how can I watch this one?  The key word here is “cherished”.   I’ve never understood why Cooper enjoys the literary status that he does, or anyway did back in the day when more young people still knew how to read.  His books, at least to me, are long-winded, pompous, condescending and heavy-handed.  And, as Mark Twain famously noted, as a limousine liberal of his day, Cooper not only was a poor writer, he also didn’t know what the hell he was talking about when it came to stories of the wild.  Frankly, I struggled through LOTM and I positively gave up on his Wing and Wing after a couple chapters despite the fact that it was a sea-story.  So it simply doesn’t bother me much that his tale of Natty Bumppo is so thoroughly mangled by the film.

Well, there is one part that bothers me:  Col. Munro, the real one, was not killed in the massacre at Fort William-Henry by Magwa or anyone else.  He actually died some months later, apparently from exhaustion.   And I recall that the movie downplays the fact that many of those murdered and carried away by Montcalm’s Indian allies were women and children.

Nonetheless, the movie is gorgeously filmed (although I believe at least some of the scenes were shot in the Blue Ridge near Roanoke instead of the Adirondacks ), there’s plenty of action and a lot of the period (circa 1757) detail is pretty good.   And for some reason, Robbo’s beloved Nationals have adopted its score as the “theme” musick at the beginning of their home games.  Kinda gets to you after  a while.

Oh, may I also note here in reference to the pic above that I absolutely love N.C. Wyeth’s work?  Sure, the man was but an illustrator, but he carried illustration to a sublime level.  I’d take ol’ N.C. over a legion of “abstract” artistes any day.


**Spot the reference.

NPG D12551; 'The death of the Great Wolf' by James Gillray, published by  Hannah Humphrey

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

You will no doubt be asking yourselves about the print posted above?  Well, it’s by James Gillray – one of ol’ Robbo’s favorite late 18th Century British politickal cartoonists – and is a 1795 piece titled “The Death of the Great Wolf”.  It is a parody of Benjamin West’s famous 1770 painting, “The Death of General Wolfe“, another great favorite of mine, given my (well-known to regular friends of teh decanter) fondness for colonial American history, and has to do with a bit of Gubmint over-reach in re the (then) Tory effort to crack down on seditious speech in the face of the French Revolution.

Anyhoo, I won’t go into all the details of Gillray’s parody – go here for a brief description – but I will point out that the glasses-wearing fellah on the immediate left of  the expiring Billy Pitt’s “Wolfe” is a caricature of Edmund Burke.

I bring all this up – well, besides using it as a pretense for posting a Gillray print – because I have started in on Yuval Levin’s latest books, The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left.   Levin’s thesis, very broadly put, is that the differences in the philosophies of the relationship between governors and governed between Burke and Paine, specifically regarding the French Revolution, have framed the same debate between classical liberalism and progressivist radicalism that has haunted American politicks ever since, and which seems, at least IMHO, to be coming to something of a  head these days.   I don’t often read politickal books simply because I loathe politicks as a whole (what the great Peej O’Rourke once described as the business of achieving status and power without merit), but somehow I thought this one was worth a dekko.

We shall see.  As I say, I’ve just started.  So long as Levin reaches the conclusion that Burke was an incremental realist who, with a genuine desire for gradual societal improvement, also took into account both empirical historic evidence and an understanding  of Man’s inherent fallibility;  and also that Paine was a rabble-rousing Utopian moron who believed in a unicorn in every garage and free, rainbow-flavored Skittles for all, and who didn’t care how much blood it took to get to this vision; well, then we’re good.

As long as I’m on the subject, allow me to throw out this:  While I have a great many Whig sympathies about societal improvements, I utterly reject what is called the Whig theory of history.  Per Wiki:

Whig history (or Whig historiography) is the approach to historiography which presents the past as an inevitable progression towards ever greater liberty and enlightenment, culminating in modern forms of liberal democracy and constitutional monarchy. In general, Whig historians emphasize the rise of constitutional government, personal freedoms, and scientific progress. The term is often applied generally (and pejoratively) to histories that present the past as the inexorable march of progress towards enlightenment. The term is also used extensively in the history of science for historiography which focuses on the successful chain of theories and experiments that led to present-day science, while ignoring failed theories and dead ends.[1] It is claimed that Whig history has many similarities with the Marxist-Leninist theory of history, which presupposes that humanity is moving through historical stages to the classless, egalitarian society to which communism aspires.

Whig history is a form of liberalism, putting its faith in the power of human reason to reshape society for the better, regardless of past history and tradition. It proposes the inevitable progress of mankind. Its opposite is conservative history or “Toryism.” The English historian A. J. P. Taylor commented, “Toryism rests on doubt in human nature; it distrusts improvement, clings to traditional institutions, prefers the past to the future.”

A.J.P. Taylor was a Commie bastard.  Suff on his “interpretation”.  More generally, however, I take this whole “inevitable progression” reasoning as a variation on the Unicorns n’ Skittles thing I mention above and condemned as a load of crap.   You’re damned right, Mister A.J.P. Taylor, that I have doubts in human nature.  History bears me out, I think.   And as I repeatedly tell anyone who will listen (an increasingly shrinking audience, I’ll allow), there is nothing, nothing that guarantees our current level of prosperity and order.  See, e.g., Fourth Century Rome.

So I suppose that I am either a conservative Burkean or else an enlightened Tory.  Which is why I use a portrait of Billy Pitt as my, how do you kids say it, avaterz when commenting on teh toobs.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Regular friends of the decanter may recall that some time in the last couple months, in one of my gloomier moods about the fate of our current Civilization, I mentioned a rayther vague idea about  taking some handgun lessons, accompanied by  those of the gels who I thought could handle it, and arming Port Swiller Manor.

Connectedly, from time to time in the past few years, I have related to said gels anecdotes about my own firearms experience.  When I was a lad of six or seven, I was allowed to fire off a shotgun into a stock tank.  Round about the same time, I began shooting a .22 rifle at tin cans set up on fenceposts.  A year or two later, I was hunting deer and turkey with a Remington .222 and a few years after that, I was also bird shooting with first a 20-guage, and later both 16 and 12-guage shotguns (depending on whether we were after dove and quail or duck).   I also got to be, in my mid-teens, a passible skeet shot, albeit not as good as my brother.

Of course, I haven’t actually picked up a gun in, lessee, 23 years?  So I’m more than a bit rusty.  And I’ve never fired a handgun.

Anyhoo, most of this a la recherche du arms perdu stuff seems to have sailed right over the heads of the eldest and youngest gels.  Just as well, perhaps.  The middle one, however, remembers All.

So this evening as we were driving home, she accosted me out of the blue.

“Hey, Dad! When are we going to take that shooting course you talked about?”

Erm, what?  I dunno.  I guess I really ought to look into it and do some research.”

“Well, do it!  I want to know how to shoot before I’m 15!”  (She just turned 14.)


She’s right, of course.   But where to start?

A quick and dirty google search revealed to me what an idiot I am:  The NRA-Freakin’-HQ-Its-Own-Bad-Self shooting range is within 25 minutes or so of Port Swiller Manor.   As Gob Bluth would say, “C’mon!!”

(Of course, any of you friend of the decanter with other NoVA insider knowledge are welcome to submit your own suggestions.)

Either way, I suppose it’s time for ol’ Robbo to get busy.   Heck, if this does pan out, I’ve got one Christmas present locked down for sure!






Idly flipping through the latest PBS magazine today, ol’ Robbo noticed that “American Masters” will be airing a tribute to Pete Seeger, who died last month, in a couple weeks.   The plug for the program includes this language:

“Largely misunderstood by his critics, including the U.S. government, for his views on peace, civil rights and ecology, Seeger went from the top of the hit parade to the top of the blacklist – banned from commercial television for more than 17 years.”

“Misunderstood”?  The man was a goddam Stalinist.   And the HUAC people didn’t know the  half of it.   Yeah, I know Seeger apologized later on, but his apology was of the “Whoopsie!” variety.  20 to 40 million of Uncle Joe’s “whoopsies” could not be reached for comment.   Also, I gather that while Seeger came to realize Stalin was, in fact, a Bad Man, he never understood that any system of collectivist utopianism is per se evil.

The column finishes thusly:

“His inspiring story is told by everyone from Bob Dylan to the Dixie Chicks and through a remarkable historical archive  – a history that Seeger himself helped create.”

A.)  Wow, what a cross-section of perspective, and B.) I’ll bet he did.

This sort of thing drives me nuts.  One strategic point  the collectivist/progressivist/New World Order types have grasped is that to control the narrative is to control the high ground of both history and the future.  You will notice that these people have infiltrated, and now dominate, the Academy, the Press and the Entertainment Industry, from which all modern cultural (and modern politickal) sensibilities flow.

What we do to fight back, I’m not sure that I know.  For myself, I suppose all I can do is chip away in blog posts read, probably, by no more than fifteen or twenty people.   Well, every little, right?

Now if you all will excuse me, it seems somebody is knocking at the door.  Strange, this time of night……..

In honor of Washington’s birthday, as is my usual wont I post my favorite portrait of him by Charles Wilson Peale (1772) in his uniform as Colonel of the First Virginia colonial troops:


As I’m sure I’ve written before, I have read that the background in this portrait is said to be Jumonville Glen (about 30 miles southeast of what is now Pittsburgh) where, on May 28, 1754, young Lt. Col. Washington, at the head of a force of colonial militia and Indians, got the drop on a band of Frenchmen led by Joseph Coulon de Villiers, Sieur de Jumonville, sent by Montreal to clear British encroachers from the Ohio country, and killed or captured the entire French force, thereby opening the conflict now known (at least by anyone who’s ever actually heard of it) as the French and Indian War.  Despite the fact that Washington himself had to surrender to another French force at Fort Necessity a few days later, I believe he remained pretty darned proud of his initial success.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Amidst all the fresh clashes and crises boiling up around the world – and thank Heaven we have Top Men working on them (Top. Men.) –  Ol’ Robbo noticed a small nooz article this week about David Bowie creating a minor kerfluffle by including some anti-Scottish independence rhetoric in a speech at some musick awards to-do.

I’ve been hearing mutterings about Scottish independence for ages but hadn’t realized that it’s got as far as the scheduling of a referendum later on this year.  I suppose I ought to read up on things in order to better understand what exactly the Scots mean by “independence” here, because at first glance the idea appears…what’s the word?…insane.

I’m assuming that their own parliament in Edinburg is a given.  But would an independent Scotland still be part of the Commonwealth under the Queen?  Somebody mentioned that this might be an excellent opportunity for the revival of the House of Stuart.  (Okay, to me that would almost make the effort worth it.)

Would an independent Scotland be responsible for the provision of her own armed forces?  A revival of the Highland regiments, for example?  Again, that might make it worthwhile.

But here’s the thing that I don’t quite get and is at the bottom of my off-the-cuff assessment.  Scotland’s entire economy, from what I can see, is dependent on sheep, tourism and great big fat subsidy checks from London.   Without funding from the South, she’s really a pretty poor place.   And the people have been on the dole for so long that I don’t get the sense there’s a pent-up spirit of rah-rah entrepreneurship just champing at the bit to be turned loose.  How does she propose to, you know, feed herself if she makes a clean break with the rest of G.B?

I’m guessing, however, that the pro-independence types don’t actually want that kind of independence, and that the movement is really more of the Get Out Of My Life, But First Could You Drive Me & Cheryl To The Mall variety.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Driving along this evening, ol’ Robbo found himself behind a truck belonging to some kind of office furniture store.  The ad copy on its backside read, “ABC (or whatever it was) Furniture – Where the Customer Becomes Family”.

Similarly, I have noticed from time to time the use of the word “family” in various notes, announcements and invitations down the office:  “Come join the Department of Silly Walks’ Happy Feet Section Family for a Holiday Celebration” and the like.

Frankly, this irks me.

As far as being a customer goes, XYZ Company provides me goods or services and I supply it monies.  It’s a business relationship.  I might very well get to be quite chummy with the owners or their staff, but unless this goes so far that I or one of my kin actually marries one of them….we’re not family. 

Again, as far as office relations go, I always endeavor to be professional and courteous, and am on various levels of friendship with colleagues there, but….we’re still not family.

Now , I doubt very seriously whether the people who use the word “family” in these contexts actually mean any harm.  I don’t see this as deliberately Orwellian double-speak.  Nonetheless, I find it to be an unwarranted assumption of familiarity, an intrusion into what the kids call my “personal space”, a co-opting of a term that properly describes the fundamental unit of human life established by God the Father Himself,  a get off my lawn moment.

Perhaps I’m being hypersensitive,  but these things matter.  We already live in a day and age in which the traditional definition of family – people united by blood and marriage – has been completely tossed aside in favor of whatevs, dude. This is a Very Bad Thing, and I can’t help feeling that the sloppy transposition of the term to the market and the workplace does nothing to help.

Oh, and bonus points for spotting the quote in the title.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Now that the days are growing longer again, ol’ Robbo’s evening commute currently begins right around sunset.  Heading west nor’west from the office to Port Swiller Manor, I get the full glory of dusk across my windshield.

Know one of the things I’ve always loved seeing at this time of day?  The contrails of jets heading west.  There’s something about the rosy glow of the vapor trail and the (occasional) twinkle of the plane itself, set against the profound blue depth of the sky, that moves me.   I can’t really explain it, except that there is some combination of the aesthetic, historickal, musical and religious connotations that strikes home.

Yes, I include “musickal”.   There’s a recitative from Purcell’s King Arthur that I always associate with this time of day.

Cold Genius:

Great Love, I know thee now:
Eldest of the gods art thou.
Heav’n and earth by thee were made.
Human nature is thy creature,
Ev’rywhere thou art obey’d.

And lest you draw the wrong, Niles Crane-like, conclusions, I may point out that when I articulated the idea to a young Randy-Mack gel long ago while we were driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway, the only thing that stopped her from jumping me then and there was the fact that she was a good Catholic girl and I was semi-hemi-demi-seeing her friend.  It’s a long story.

But those records are sealed.

On the other hand, in messing about researching this post, I stumbled across the following YooToob clip of the Passacaille from the same King Arthur, about which was made a movie of which I had not heard,  England, My England – The Story of Henry Purcell.  Not Netflix-worthy, apparently, but available at the devil’s website.

Enjoy teh sample:

I may cough up the readies to see the whole thing.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It is said that English is a Living Language, always ready to bend, fold, mutilate, mutate or transmogrify in order to meet the needs of the occasion.   Back in school, I recall being taught that this is a Very Good Thing.

So I suppose that I am pleased, in once sense at least, with the addition to the vocabulary by members of the Port Swiller family of what I believe to be a brand new word or family of words.

Allow me to explain.

In my capacity as paper paterfamilias, I often find myself issuing instructions to the gels of the following variety:

“It’s almost time for dinner.  Come downstairs and set the table, please.”

“You were supposed to clean out the kitty litter.  Get TO it, please.”

“That laundry of yours is still sitting on our bed, waiting to be folded and put away.  Get it done.”

“You’ve played enough Mine-Craft for one day.  Turn off the computer and come upstairs.”

“Dammit, we’re going to be late, AGAIN.  Get.  In. To. The. Car.” 

Well, you get the general theme.

At any rate, almost invariably in response to these and similar directions, the younger gels answer with the delaying-tactic imperative, “Hold on.”

This is where the liquidity of the Mother Tongue kicks in because they don’t, in fact, answer me with these two words but rayther have taken to serving up what I believe to be a unique hybrid.

So far, there seem to be several different permutations, all of which they utter in a kind of dismissive mumble.  A phonetic  sampling:





I’m not sure yet if there is any connection between choice of variant and context, whether for example one might be formal while another is more familiar, or whether this is just a bit of linguistic chaos common to the birth of a new form of expression.   No doubt inevitable further exposure will give me some more refined insight.

At any rate, as I say, I try to derive whatever etymological pleasure I can from these utterances, because otherwise they drive me absolutely crazy.





Blog Stats

  • 501,219 hits
February 2014