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sbc sealGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo ran the Eldest Gel down to Sweet Briar College yesterday for an “accepted applicants weekend” fandango.  (Sorry, Mothe, this is why I didn’t have the chance to call you per the usual.)

I’m not sure which was the stranger experience: Seeing teh Eldest taking her first steps into a wider academic universe as a bona fide collegiate newbie, or running into a couple of faculty again who I knew 25 or so years ago when I was a law student at Dubyanell dating Mrs. R in her undergrad days at SBC.

One thing I am sure of: As part of the weekend, we took a campus tour.  The smells (of the dorms, the academic buildings, of the grounds) haven’t changed a single bit.

And this, to me, is a Good Thing.

Holla, Holla, Holla!

Nats HatGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo cannot help but note that his beloved Nats advanced to a an early season record of 11-3 this evening.  Life is good.  Yes, I know that we’ve been feasting on other NL East teams so far, teams that range from the mediocre to the appallingly bad, but that’s what the best do, isn’t it?

I didn’t make my usual preseason predictions this year because, frankly, I hadn’t the faintest idea what would happen, what with all the turnovers and changes.  However, up to this point, I am quite pleased with all aspects of our game: offense, defense, starting rotation, and bullpen.  Based on an admittedly meager record, I’m beginning to feel we will win the NL East again.  What we do against the Cubbies in the playoffs, I can’t even begin to contemplate.

Post-season fantasy aside, my biggest reservation so far is with new manager Dusty Baker and his damned toothpicks.  I don’t mind that he perpetually chews on one, but it bugs the hell out of me that he from time to time sucks it all the way into his mouth.  Every time he does so, I find myself cringing and thinking, “Buddy boy, sooner or later that thing is going to get lodged in your wind pipe.  Then where the hell do you think you’ll be?

Eh, Dusty’s been around a long time.  I can only assume he knows what he’s about.  In the meantime, what else is there to say other than


UPDATE: Make that 14-4 after we swept the hapless Twins.  (We may need moar brooms.)  Nonetheless, NOVA-C speaks sooth in his comment.  We have one more home series against the Phils this week (ol’ Robbo and the family are going to Thursday’s game – skybox tix, if you please) before a brutal road trip against the Cards, Royals, and Cubbies, all of whom are teh goods at the moment  We shall see what we shall see.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, one thing you can say about spring weather in the great Commonwealth of Virginny is that it is reliably schizophrenic.  Last weekend saw snow flurries at Port Swiller Manor.  This weekend, La Wrangler goes topless and we eat dinner on the porch.

Speaking of cars, this week the Middle Gel (yes, the Middle Gel) is doing her behind-the-wheel training.  By next Tuesday, she most likely will have her driver’s license.


I say this not so much because I worry about her driving, but because this is another one of those milestones that shows just how fast time is moving and how soon the lot of them will be up and out of the house.   Their formative years seemed to drag on forever sometimes.  Once they hit high school, however, life just seems to go to flank speed.

And speaking of driving and ups and outs, back on Holy Saturday the three of them spent the morning helping out at the Easter egg roll at Robbo’s Former Episcopal Church.  Mid-afternoon, as I was fooling about with something or other in the kitchen, they all suddenly congregated in the front hall.

“Bye, Dad,” they said with elaborate casualness.

“Bye? Um…where are you going?” I asked.

“King’s Dominion.”

(King’s Dominion is about 75 miles from here, all of it interstate.)

“Whuh?  Ruh? Is it even open this early?” I stammered.

“Oh, yes, it opened yesterday.”

“Well, when are you coming back?”

“We’re going to leave at 8:00 pm.”

“You do know tomorrow is Easter and that we need to get up especially early, don’t you?”

“Oh, yes.  We promise we will.”

Well.  Ol’ Robbo was torn.  On the one hand, I reminded myself that when I was the Eldest Gel’s age back in San Antonio, my parents let me drive myself down to the beach (about 150 miles) and up to Austin (about 80 miles).  I also didn’t want to discourage them doing something as sisters, since they usually don’t hang out together.  On the other, I-95 is a nasty piece of highway.  Also, I envisioned all kinds of trouble getting them out of bed in the morning if they were going to get home that late.

Muttering something about putting all one’s eggs in the same basket, I decided in the end not to make a fuss.

Happily, it all worked out.  When I got home late that night from the Vigil Mass, I found the car in the driveway and all of them up in bed.  And in the morning, much to my surprise, all three of them got up, got dressed, and were ready to head out before I had to say a single word.  And on top of all that, they behaved themselves both at church and at brunch afterward.  Easter Miracle, indeed.

UPDATE: Driving test successfully passed, license issued.  She’s already done her first “because I can” solo run, too.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

This post is sort of a follow-on to the one below because it’s about another thing I often ponder while going walkies in Your Nation’s Capital.

Despite the fact that I studied him in school back in the day, I can only quote one small snippet of Alexander Pope off the top of my head:

Vice is a monster of such frightful mien, that to be hated needs but to be seen.  But seen too oft, familiar with her face, first we endure, then pity, then embrace.

As it happens, this is apropos to any number of topics these days, but I find myself remembering it mostly when my walk takes me by the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

I’ve said here somewhere before that I thought the thing was hideous and I still do.  Further, I think its placement right next door to and in plain sight of the Washington Monument is an exercise in aesthetic bird-flipping akin to the decision of that rat-bastard Francois Mitterrand (another raging narcissist, btw) to let I.M. Pei drop his beastly pyramid right on the doorstep of the Louvre.

However, more and more lately I’ve found myself thinking that if one scores the thing not in absolute terms but on the scale of Smithsonian architecture, it’s not quite as bad as all that.  Still bad, as I say, but not as bad.

I mean, consider some of the other offerings.  Air & Space and American History are both blocks and slabs of 60’s Soviet Modernski.  American Indian looks like Jabba the Hutt’s lair on Tatooine.  The Hirshhorn is a giant hat box.  And the Castle itself is that kind of twee red-brick Neo-Gothic that gets mocked by writers like Waugh and Wodehouse and for some reason makes me think of Queen Victoria pretending to be a Highland shepherdess.

Indeed, the only two museums on the Mall I actually like are the West Building of the National Gallery and Natural History, both of which feature clean, elegant, Neo-Classical designs.  If I wielded the great Pen and Phone of Executive Overreach, I’d raze all the others and rebuild them along these lines.

Of course, that’s not going to happen.  (Well, the razing part might, given the current world situation, but that’s not exactly the same thing.)

As for the new AA Museum, they’ve planted a bunch of young trees around it.  All I can hope is that as the shrubbery grows and fills in, it’ll mellow the thing’s starkness somewhat.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

My apologies for being away from the decanter.  I hope it didn’t run dry?  It wasn’t until the Mothe gently reminded me of it yesterday that I realized how long it had been since I last posted.  Nothing to worry about, I do assure you.   Just a combination of busy Real Life and lack of inspiration.

Nonetheless, when your 80 year old mother tells you to post, you post.  Inspired or otherwise.

I may or may not have mentioned before that my primary source of exercise these days is a brisk lunchtime walk.  For about the past year and a half or so, I have been accustomed to doing a loop around the National Mall that takes me as far as 14th Street to the west (just in front of the Washington Monument) and to the Grant Memorial to the east.  Combined with the distance to and from my building and throwing in a few doubling backs and cross-overs, it comes in just under 3.5 miles altogether, a perfectly respectable distance, I believe.  My legs ache pleasantly by the time I’m done, my heart-rate is mildly elevated but not red-lining, and there is enough of an endorphin release that I start feeling jumpy and irritable when I’ve skipped it for a day or two.  For a fellah of 51 years with nothing to prove to anybody, I think this is quite sufficient.

Anyhoo, as I made the circuit today, I found myself musing again over the fact that for somebody who deliberately shuns attention, I’ll bet I’m in an awful lot of touron photographs by now.  On data sticks and FB pages, in photo albums and stand-alone frames, all over the country and, indeed, the world (what with all the foreign tourons), I’m sure there are many pics of people standing in front of the Capitol or the statue of Sam Grant, or using that silly trick of perspective to pretend they’re holding up or leaning against the Washington Monument, that also feature ol’ Robbo stumping along in the background and scowling squinting at nothing in particular.

I find this idea grimly amusing.

Pursuing it a bit further, I sometimes wonder whether anyone has ever remarked of me,  “Who is that guy? And why does he look so crabby?”

As I say, I generally shun attention, but when I think about this I find myself hearing the siren song of Vanity, wondering whether it is just possible that somehow, somewhere, I might be Dee Cee vacation photography’s version of Hazel Frederick.

I also find myself snickering.

As I march past them, this probably worries the tourons more than my squinting.




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April 2016