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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Not really Christmas-related, but last evening ol’ Robbo watched the 1972 screwball comedy “What’s Up, Doc?”  I haven’t seen this film for some time and was impressed with how well it has held up over the years.  The big chase scene at the end is still a classic.

Yes, I am actually praising a movie featuring the young Mecha-Streisand, but I’ve always liked it in spite of her, not because of her.  The plot is funny and tight enough and the supporting cast (including Kenneth Mars, Sorrell “Boss Hogg” Booke and Madeline Kahn in her first role) are deep enough to get around her.  As for Ryan O’Neal?  Eh, the Mothe says he is nom-worthy.

Frankly, the only real flaw in the film is the relationship between O’Neal’s otherworldly music professor and Babwa!’s sassy firecracker.  I don’t buy it.  The man wants peace and quiet.  Sure, a life with Madeline Kahn’s Eunice would have involved 24/7 hen-pecking, but so would one with Babwa!.  The difference is that Kahn’s character (a thankless role, btw) is a mere neurotic twit and her hen-pecking can be ignored.  On the other hand, cross Babwa! and she’d boil the kids’ bunny or burn the house down or administer the John Wayne Bobbitt treatment faster than you can say “knife”.   In the end, I don’t really think he traded up.

One other point and I admit up front that I might actually be mis-remembering this:  The final scene finds O’Neal on a flight out of San Francisco back to Iowa.  As he sits there, he suddenly hears Babwa!’s voice behind him and realizes she’s followed him.  A few words later, they seal the deal of their new-found relationship.  Now, during all this, the old Bugs Bunny cartoon “What’s Up, Doc?” is showing on the plane’s moovie screen.  (Get it? Get it?)  Here’s the relevant part:

Now as I remember it from previous viewings, O’Neal and Babwa! get there biznay out of the way and the camera focuses itself on the cartoon just when Bugs sticks his carrot in Elmer Fudd’s gun, blows it up and seltzers Fudd in the face.  But on the DVD I watched last evening, there was a sudden jerk from O’Neal and Babwa! straight to Bugs and Elmer singing harmony.

Am I losing my mind or did somebody edit out the gun part?  I won’t rant about Soviet airbrushing or ISIS classical architecture demolition or other statist efforts to change history because, as I say, I’m not altogether sure here, but if I am correct you may take said ranting as a given.

Programming Note:  What with the likelihood of silly knees-bent running around advancing behavior associated with Noo Yearz tomorrow, I don’t know how many opportunities I will get at the keyboard over the next day or two, so if I don’t post, go ahead and take the next couple days of Christmas as given and also have a happy (and safe!) New Year.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Father P said in a recent homily that Holy Mother Church deliberately placed a number of saints’ feast days in the period immediately following Christmas Day to cover the dearth of Biblical references to the actual birth and immediate infancy of Jesus.  This, he said, was because newborns – even that who was God Incarnate – are good for little more than feeding, sleeping and producing poopy diapers, and Scripture deems it best to avoid such squalid details about our Lord.

Reasonable enough.

Anyhoo, today is the Feast of St. Thomas a’ Becket, martyred Bishop of Canterbury.  You know, the one at whom Peter O’Toole kept rolling his eyes and crying out in anguish, “Thomaaaaassss!!!!!

Because my mind is what it is, I can’t help associating this day with SCTV’s parody NASA production of T.S. Eliot’s “Murder In The Cathedral”.  Alas, there seems to be some kind of copyright ban on showing the clip, but – and you can trust me on this – it was damned funny stuff.  (SCTV was always better than Saturday Night Live, even in SNL’s original heyday.  **Breaks beer bottle, looks around for challengers to his assertion.**)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As we prepared to dig into Christmas din-dins the other day, the Eldest Gel started to get up from the table.

“Where are you going?” I asked.

“To get some barbeque sauce for my roast beef,” she answered.  (She’s a confirmed BBQ sauce addict.)

What?” I exclaimed.  “You can’t do that to such a noble piece of meat, especially on Christmas Day, not in my house!  Besides, I made some gravy from the drippings.”

Somewhat abashed, she sat back down.

Well, now that we’re on the fourth day of attacking the same roast and into the Sammich Zone, I’m going to go ahead and allow extracurricular condiments now.  (In fact, I’m rayther partial to French’s mustard on roast beef sammiches myself.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Feast of St. John the Beloved!

Friends of the decanter are probably aware of the lovely little non-controversy controversy over what day Christmas actually ends.  Conventional teaching – as in the “twelve days of Christmas” – says the Epiphany on January 6.  Some others argue that it ought to be the Solemnity of the Baptism of Our Lord on January 8.  Real hard-core types hold out for Candlemas on February 2.

It’s fascinating stuff to me, however I don’t bring it up here to get into the arguments but to note that when I went for a jog yesterday afternoon, I saw that somebody had already run their tree out to the curb.

And earlier in the day when I had flipped on the local classickal radio station there was not a ghost left of the “holiday” musick with which it had been saturation-bombing my ears since the day after Thanksgiving.


The appropriation and commercialization of the season by the secular world is bad enough.  What’s worse is the bending and mutilating of its symbols, images and traditions in order to fit the needs desires of said world.  (These desires include the deliberate destruction of their religious associations, by the way.  The government/industrial complex does not suffer other centers of power in its long march toward creating Utopia.)

Ol’ Robbo saw an item in the nooz a few days back about some academic type down in Florida who is proposing we change “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Federal Holiday”.  Her reasoning centers on the usual blather about inclusiveness and insensitivity, but part of me thinks the actual proposal isn’t such a bad idea.  Go appropriate your own damned symbols!



Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Feast of St. Stephen!  I hope you are all recovering from lots of Christmas Day merriment – it was certainly quite late this morning before anyone at Port Swiller Manor began to stir.  (Except for the eldest cat, who started -as is her wont- to pester me to feed her at about 6 ack emma.  Damned cats.)

Anyhoo, we had a very pleasant Christmas Day ourselves, meaning there was no teenager trauma and the oven didn’t cut out on me (as happened last year before I could get teh popovers done).  Ol’ Robbo doesn’t like to brag, but I will say that I seem to have a genuine talent when it comes to roasts.  I absolutely nailed that bad boy this year, getting a near perfect rosey-red center.  Surprisingly, there really isn’t that much left – maybe two or three meals’ worth.  I like to think this was some testament to my cooking.

Today I begin my new exercise regime, by the bye.  Nobody would ever call me fat, but because of my fondness for red meat and wine I’m beginning to develop a certain flabbiness which probably is not the best thing for a fellah shortly to turn 51.


"Merry Christmas, beyotches!"

“Merry Christmas, beyotches!”

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, like everyone else east of the Mississippi, ol’ Robbo can’t help remarking on the crazy warm weather visiting us at the moment.  It’s nearly 70 degrees here and there’s even a chance of a thundershower this afternoon.  Reminds me more of Christmases from my misspent yoot in South Texas than the norm.

Well, what can you do.

Meanwhile, I find that I’m not happy with either the ribbon or the candles I bought this year.  The ribbon is not wide enough and the candles taper too much.  These are minor things, of course, but I like to get them right.  Speaking of which, my plan is to finally take advantage of post-Christmas pricing and stock up on decorations early, including finally tracking down a creche with which I can be happy.

I’ll go ahead and wish you all some pre-Christmas joy but my other aim is to really try and celebrate the full twelve days this year.  Tomorrow is but the beginning, after all.  See you at the Nativity!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, ol’ Robbo’s Christmas Prep status has just been upgraded to “locked and loaded”, as I managed to get to the grock store to pick up the makings of Christmas Din-Dins relatively unruffled this morning, in spite of (or perhaps because of) the pouring rain.  About all I have left to do before the festivities get under way tomorrow evening is to switch the Advent bows and candles to red, and lay out the table (something it’s always wise to leave until the last minute because cats).

Christmas Dins will consist, as it always does at Port Swiller Manor, of the classic roast beef with Yorkshire pud and two veg.  (In this case, the two veg actually are one very large portion of asparagus).  This year I am also attempting a Julia Child cheese casserole for those weirdoes respected members of the family who do not choose to eat beef.  This will be preceded by bacon-wrapped water chestnuts, cheese n’ crackers and various other snacks, and followed by whatever dessert my cousin brings along with her.  And of course I’ve already laid in a stock of sherry, burgundy and port to accompany the various stages of the meal.

We’re supposed to go on to some friends for drinks later in the day.  How on earth I’m still even going to be conscious by that point is a great mystery.

Tomorrow evening kicks off with the Middle Gel singing one of the services at Robbo’s Former Episcopal Church.  (I hope it’s not the “family” service, because at that one the rector skips his sermon and instead calls the chillruns up to the altar and reads them some revolting kiddy book.)  Later on, I’ll push off on my own for Midnight Mass, from which I don’t get home until past two ack emma.  My traditional way of capping off Christmas Eve is to have a nice glass of cognac before crawling into bed and trying to grab a few hours’ sleep before the piranhas start circling the Tree.

Between the activities of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, ol’ Robbo ends up pretty exhausted when all is said and done, but it’s a calm, joyous sort of exhaustion.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sorry again for the lack of posties this week.   The Holiday Season, with its series of dinners, parties, and concerts, is now in high gear and what little time ol’ Robbo has to himself to play in Pixal Land has been that much more diminished.

Nevertheless, I’ve got another one of my patented dreams to relate to those two or three who still gather together here over the decanter.

Actually, I had a whole series of interlocking dreams last night.  I don’t remember anything of most of them (except for one that involved Mrs. R and is none of your biznay), but I retain the impression that they all flowed together somehow.

I do remember the last one, however.  In it, I found myself in an ISIS boot camp.

I was dressed in Middle Eastern robes and was one of a great many men lying prone on prayer rugs out in a desert.  A loudspeaker was blaring something in Arabic (I thought it was the Koran) and a number of bully-boys in masks and fatigues strolled about among us doing the sorts of things that bully-boys do to newbies.

I couldn’t imagine what on earth I was doing there but figured I’d best just lay low until I could sort things out.

Ol’ Robbo wears a chain with a crucifix and medals of Our Lady and his patron saints, a gift from my sponsor when I swam the Tiber.  In my dream, as I shifted slightly it made a distinct clinking sound.  (I don’t usually wear it to bed but forgot to take it off last evening, so I may really have heard it.)  Suddenly it dawned on me that if one of the bully-boys was to discover the chain, things would get ugly in a hurry.

And ol’ Robbo was sore afraid.

However, the last part of the dream I remember was not so much concerned with being caught out then and there, but rayther with trying to decide whether it would be better to clear off as soon as a means of escape presented itself or to stay in as a plant so that I could gather intelligence for the Good Guys.

And then, as they say, I woke up.

Note to self:  No more onion rings at dinner.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

The Eldest Gel reminds ol’ Robbo that today is the centennial of the birth of Frank Sinatra.  While she continues to believe Queen and Freddy Mercury to be the greatest musick evah, she also likes her some Ol’ Blue Eyes.

I’ve got no problem with that.

Speaking of the Eldest, she went out the other day all on her own and bought Ben Shapiro’s book Bullies.  Turns out that for some time now she’s been reading Shapiro and that Milos Whatshisname fellah over at Breitbart.  She also has become an ardent fan of “South Park”.

I guess that apple didn’t fall all that far away from the tree after all.

(OTOH, this is the same whippersnapper who, when confronted with the fact that once again she had left her dishes piled in the sink, said, “I deliberately leave them for you to do, Dad.  I read where that kind of task is good for slowing the onset of dementia in old people and am just trying to help.”)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, it’s that time of year again, time for multiple office “holiday” parties.

Needless to say, ol’ Robbo loathes these annual fixtures.   (Does anybody really, I mean really, enjoy them?)  I’m not much of one for crowds or smalltalk to begin with, and especially given the increasingly poisonous politickal atmosphere ’round here, I have to watch my mouth that much more in these particular settings, pretty much confining myself to words of one syllable and saying nothing more than what a nice party it is.

When I can’t absolutely duck out altogether (either arranging to be on biznay travel or having a deadline I just have to meet) I usually contrive to make just long enough an appearance so as to give people the vague sense of my presence and then quietly slip off back to my office.  This is the trick:  One doesn’t want to be conspicuous about it, one just wants nobody to even notice.  A friend and sympathizer who knows perfectly well what I’m about always gets a good laugh at what he calls my on-board radar-defeating stealth capacity to do this.  (I can’t help thinking, in this respect, that I would have made a pretty good spy.)

Such stealthiness also has long-term benefits.  One year, when I had skipped the party altogether, somebody actually asked me why I hadn’t been there.  “What do you mean?” I said with a puzzled look on my face.  “I was standing right next to you.”  They went off, thoroughly baffled.

By the bye, this year people are being invited to bring their favorite “international dishes” and there is to be a “chili cook-off”.  If I were a trouble-maker, I’d start a whisper campaign about “cultural misappropriation” over this.  Isn’t that a Thing with the SJW kool kidz?


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December 2015