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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, another Halloween is upon us.

As regular friends of the decanter know, Ol’ Robbo is not at all fond of this “holiday”.

Indeed, this year, I didn’t even bother to carve a jack-o-lantern, even though this is one of the very few aspects of the day that I’ve always really rather enjoyed, as I see it as a vestige of the original spirit of the day and not the product of the nasty modern secular/commercial virus which has infected this and just about every other holiday (with the possible exceptions of the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving) in this wretched day and age.  (So long as we’re talking three triangles and a toothy grin, and none of this fancy-shmancy “pumpkin art” stuff, mind you).   We have a pumpkin, but it remains un-lobotomized and faceless on the front porch, and will stay there in such condition probably until the beginning of Advent.

Not that it matters much.  What with where Port Swiller Manor lies in relation to the rest of the neighborhood, we get very, very little traffic here.  Even our next door neighbors, who have three small kids, general go off to the trick or trunk at the local church.  UPDATE: Of course as I typed this, some kiddies showed up at the door!

Also, of course, the Gels have outgrown the day, so there’s nothing much in it for us now.  Indeed, the only nod paid was by Youngest Gel, who went to school in a home-made Waluigi costume that consisted of nothing more than a long-sleeved purple shirt and a set of “overalls” jury-rigged from her jeans and a pair of suspenders she borrowed from me.  Truth be told, she looked rather fetching.

Fortunately, tomorrow is All Saints Day, one of Ol’ Robbo’s very favorites in the entire calendar.  So I will spend the balance of this evening hiding, and looking forward to a better day in the morning.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A lovely Saturday at Port Swiller Manor today.  The weather’s supposed to break tomorrow, but for now porch-sitting and dinner grilling is the order of things.

The leaves are starting to come down, but fortunately not in such numbers that I can’t simply run them over and mulch them in as I mow the lawn.  That’s an image that has always given Ol’ Robbo an immense amount of satisfaction, by the bye; the clean, green swath through the dapple of oranges and browns.  I also love the smell when leaf mulch gets up on to the mower chassis and starts to smoke.

So on the one hand, Mrs. Robbo went down to Flahrduh to visit her parents and grandmother (who just turned 94) this weekend, while on the other the Eldest Gel came home from school for a little R&R after finishing up her midterms.  She and I and the Youngest sat around for about an hour this morning, companionably trading observations and anecdotes about the insanity of the world around us.

Ol’ Robbo was pleased that the Gels were so chummy with each other:  For a long time, the Eldest thought the Youngest so social, flighty and frivolous that it was only a matter of time before she turned up one day with a pierced nose, tats all over, a biker boyfriend, and/or a head full of SJW Cultural Marxist propaganda.  And out of a spirit of what can only be called divilment, the Youngest loved to jerk on the Eldest’s very short chain.  As a result, there was a period of almost continual feuding between them.  Fortunately, while the Youngest remains extremely social, and does in fact have a Young Man (a very good kid, by the bye, who is causing ol’ Robbo little or no anxiety),  she is increasingly showing the skepticism and common sense with which Mrs. R and I have spent all this time trying to equip her for dealing with Life.

Skepticism (about worldly things) and common sense.  To that, I’d also add Faith (in Godly things), although we’re still working on that one.  (Middle Gel is the only one of the three who I would describe as explicitly Christian, in that I know she spends a lot of time thinking about it.   The other two have the Spirit in them as well, not very far down below the surface, but still not as consciously developed.)  And what is both remarkable and gratifying is how strong an armor this combination is proving to be as they navigate the pitfalls of this wretched world, whether it be peer-pressure, academic brainwashing, or media assault.  There are still many things on my Dad Card for me to worry about, but that any of them will turn out dupes, snowflakes,  or wrong ‘uns is not one of them.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo went in for his annual (actually, it’s been a bit over two years) physical yesterday afternoon.

Seems I’m still in reasonable shape.  Within five pounds of my college weight, no major organ problems, bones fine, etc., etc.  On the other hand, I do have a few small issues.  My blood-pressure and cholesterol are a bit elevated and I seem to have a few vitamin deficiencies.  Not exactly E. Henry Thripshaw’s Disease-level worries, but Stuff Relatively Sedate Men In Early Middle Age have to deal with.  I’m supposed to go back next week to “consult” about these things.


However, the high point of the visit was when my Doc surprised me by earnestly suggesting I really ought to cut back on my wine and coffee drinking (neither of which, IMHO, is particularly excessive).  She’s my age, and evidently several of her friends of our vintage have up and died recently from various causes.  I think this has rather spooked her.

I held my tongue at the time, and waited until I was back in the parking lot before I let out a Wayne Campbellish, “Shyeah, right!”

I mean, really!

I didn’t think much more of it until I got the fancy-shmancy electronic copy of her examination report today and saw that she’d actually put this stuff down in writing.  Now that it’s on my Permanent Record, I’m toast.  I can just imagine, when mandatory single-payer and its inevitable health-care rationing become Things, being face-to-face with a Dinsdale Piranha-like administrator.  As he looks through my file, he’ll say, “Oi, you’ve been a naughty boy, Clement!”  And when I tell him my name’s not Clement, he’ll split me nostrils open, saw off me leg and pull me liver out.  Then he’ll lose his temper and nail my head to the floor.

At first, yeah.

Oh, the other high point was that when Doc came in, I noticed she was carrying a syringe with her.

“Now,” she said, “You requested a flu shot, right?”

“No,” I said, somewhat bewildered, “I never requested a flu shot.”

“Oh,” she said, “Well, it says here that you did.”

Then I recalled that Mrs. Robbo had casually mentioned getting a call from the Doc’s office confirming my appointment a couple days ago, and that Mrs. R had done the confirming for me.

“Newman!” I blurted out.

I should say that Mrs. R and I have what amounts to a tradition of squabbling about flu shots each Fall.  I don’t want one: I hate needles, believe that the inoculation is at best a hit-or-miss affair anyway, and would rather run the risk of having to tough it out should I become infected.  She thinks otherwise.

So when I got home and she asked me how the visit went, I simply smiled coldly and said, “Nice try.”

UPDATE:  And per the title of this post, obligatory:



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is going to go out on a limb here and suggest the kind of fellah who voluntarily takes a course on how to “unlearn” his “toxic masculinity”……probably really doesn’t need to.

If you know what I mean.

And I think you do.

Ya know, when Ol’ Robbo was growing up, the Mothe pounded into his head a set of very, very firm rules about how boys were supposed to treat girls.  Boys were supposed to be respectful and courteous, and honor girls for what they are.  Boys absolutely did not hit girls (read: Robbo’s sistah) for any reason whatsoever unless pushed to it in the utmost straits of self-defense.  Boys did not impose themselves on girls in any way, shape, or form, nor did they take advantage of their own size or strength in order to override girls’ wishes.

The Mothe called this course of behavior “being a Gentleman”.

In college, though, Ol’ Robbo was taught that “being a Gentleman” is wrong, wrong, wrong.  Because such a code admits that there are differences between men and women.  Because admitting such differences reinforces the Patriarchy.  Because putting women on pedestals. Because condescending.  Because virgin/whore complex.  Because shut up!

Despite this attempted indoctrination, Ol’ Robbo never forgot the Mothe’s teachings and has conducted himself accordingly over the years.  Mrs. Robbo, the Gels, and all of my female friends and colleagues – even the Socialist Juice-box Wanker types – may be delusional, but they seem to appreciate this.

So, what exactly is the practical difference between “unlearning toxic masculinity” and  “being a Gentleman”?

The answer, of course, is “none at all”.

But that is not what all this is about.  “Being a Gentleman” (and its forefather “Chivalry”) is all about taking masculinity and channeling it to good purpose.  What’s going on now is an outright attempt to destroy masculinity altogether.

Ol’ Robbo will simply nod his head courteously and murmur, “No, thank you.”



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Just done mowing the yard here at Port Swiller Manor and wondering how many more times this year I’ll need to do so.  Twice at the most, I reckon.  At the moment, there’s a large flock of robins out back going over the trimmings.  We generally have a few hanging around all year, but I think this is probably a migratory bunch on their way from hither to yon.  Certainly the hummingbirds seem to have packed up and left.

Anyhoo, Ol’ Robbo’s lawn-mowing turned out to be a Sunday chore this week because we spent most of yesterday visiting my godparents, who live about an hour away from us.  Uncle and I had a long talk about the Mothe – he’d known her nearly 60 years – and I’ve been feeling a good deal better since.

Meanwhile, on a completely random note, for some mysterious reason the shopping cart I was pushing around the store today in search of this evening’s din-din components kept building up a static charge:  I could feel my hair pringling and got my fingers zapped every time they moved off the plastic bar onto the bare metal.  Very strange.  Perhaps Black Lectroids were trying to contact me?  That would explain the voice in my head that keeps saying, “Hallo! Mah nem is Jon Pahrker!”

In the World of Baseball, congratulations to the Astros for holding off the Yankees in the ALCS.  I don’t think a Yankees/Dodgers series would have appealed to many folks outside their respective markets, but I imagine now the ‘Stros will be the favorites of the rest of the country.

Whelp, that’s about it.  Five o’clock and time for a glass of sherry!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, Autumn has definitely arrived in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor, with mild days and cool, crisp evenings.  It is very much Ol’ Robbo’s favorite season, even when it gets colder and rainy.

For some reason I’ve never completely fathomed, it also puts me in mind to revisit my studies of North American colonialism in general, and the French and Indian War in particular.  Arcane knowledge, some might say, particularly in this day and age of goddam Cultural Marxism where history began fifteen minutes ago, but Ol’ Robbo continues to be of the opinion that one cannot understand America as a concept without understanding her Revolutionary beginnings, and one cannot understand the Revolution without also understanding the Colonial roots from which it sprang.  (And speaking of the Colonial Era, did I ever mention here that my geneology-obsessed cousin recently discovered that ancestors of ours were killed and captured during Shawnee raids on the Virginia frontier in 1759 and 1763?  Hard cheese for them, of course, but pretty durn cool in retrospect.)

Anyhoo, it is always around this time of year that I pull my Francis Parkman off the shelf and delve into his massive opus on the struggle between France and Britain in North America.  This year, I had also been considering revisiting the great Fred Anderson (I have his Crucible of War and A People’s Army), since I haven’t read him in a while.

So imagine my serendipitous delight when I unexpectedly received in the mail from long-time friend of the decanter Old Dominion Tory this week a copy of Braddock’s Defeat: The Battle of the Monogahela and the Road to Revolution by David Preston, a new-to-Robbo author, but I doubt ODT would recommend him if he was a wrong ‘un.

Poor old General Braddock – hopelessly out of his depth in the tactics of frontier fighting, bushwhacked, receiving a painful and fatal wound, then being buried ignominiously in the middle of the road the remainder of his army retreated over so as not to be dug up and scalped by the Indians.  And all for the sake of Pittsburgh.  I think about that a lot when I’m driving the Gels back and forth to summah camp out in southwestern Pennsylvania.

I’m looking forward to reading this book bigly.

** Spot the reference.

UPDATE:  Poking around on the devil’s website, Ol’ Robbo also found a book authored by Preston entitled The Texture of Contact: European and Indian Settler Communities on the Frontiers of Iroquoia, 1667-1783 (The Iroquoians and Their World), which of course I immediately had to scoop up as well.   (Ol’ Robbo is the worst sort of impulse-buyer when it comes to books.  I suppose there are worse vices.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

In re HarveyWeinsteinGate,  I understand Captain Renault is shocked, shocked, that there is sexual predation in Big Entertainment.

There’s really not much else to say.  I believe this sort of thing is, in fact, Standard Operating Procedure in Gomorrah on the Pacific, that everybody out there knows it is, that it’s been going on forever, that the predators are not just men, and that the victims* are not just women or just adults.

My only real questions are why Weinstein in particular got tagged for it, and why now?

I doubt, in the end, that this will be enough to bring down fire and brimstone on Tinseltown, nor that it will change the inmates’ collective belief that they are our betters Because Celebrity, but it’s nice to think it might.

* I use the word “victims” very loosely here.  I’ve little doubt the Hollywood casting couches have seen everything from rape to de facto prostitution.  It’s all nasty.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

No profoundly muddled insights this evening, as Netflix sent along “The Great Escape”.

The movie is nearly three hours long and what with Ol’ Robbo’s need of a set amount of his beauty sleep before tomorrow’s plunge once more unto the Swamp, dear friends, once more, I can either watch TGE or I can bloviate here.  I can’t do both.

See you tomorrow.

*Knocks three times on table top, slips through secret hole under kitchen counter*

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I hope friends of the decanter will indulge Ol’ Robbo in a little bit of Proud Dad bragging?  You will? A glass of wine with you!

Well, the big news is that Middle Gel this weekend successfully auditioned for the All-State Senior Honors Choir, a pretty durn big deal in high school choral circles, and well worth the “Honors” part of its title.  Competition for membership, as I understand it, is quite fierce.

The Gel hadn’t been overly happy with her audition, and really wasn’t expecting to get in.  When she found out the results this morning and called me, I don’t think I’ve ever heard her sound so surprised by joy.

Well done, indeed!

On the other hand, Youngest fanned on her second attempt to get her learner’s permit this afternoon.  About this I am again really rayther relieved, especially after an incident Saturday morning when we were at the store.

As we went in, the Gel walked straight into the path of an old duffer coming the opposite direction, apparently without even noticing him.  The fellah had to quickly side-step, and moved off with a black look on his face.  When I chided the Gel about paying attention to where she was going, she said, “Oh, I have issues with situational awareness”.

I gawped.

“And you expect us to let you get behind the wheel of a car?  Do you realize that “situational awareness” is more critical to safe driving than all the DMV rules and regulations ever spawned?  You’d better get over those “issues” P.D.Q., missy.”

She promised to do so, but I could tell she was already thinking about something else.

So now you see why I choose the word “relieved” at learning the news of her swinging strike two.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Somewhere a month or two back, Ol’ Robbo noted here his disappointment over the movie King Solomon’s Mines (in which Stewart Granger spent most of the film imitating Marlin Perkins while Deborah Kerr kept losing bits of her costume), but he also noted that said disappointment had decided him to read the original book by H. Rider Haggard.

Well, let’s just say that good can come of bad, because I just got done with the book and I’m here to tell you that it was a thoroughly enjoyable story: exciting, exotic, at times bordering on the absurd, and occasionally quite creepy and gory.  (I’m recalling a reference to Gagool the Witch that I had seen somewhere else.  I hadn’t known till now that this is where she came from.)  And our friend Allan Quatermain turns out to be the sort of phlegmatic, professional, ambivalent pukka sahib who seems to be at the center of nearly all the stories I’ve read by British Empire writers who have spent any real time on the frontiers (think Kipling, for example).

Incidentally, I’ve also been reading a book the Mothe sent on to me some time this past summah called The Zulu At War: The History, Rise, and Fall of the Tribe that Washed Its Spears by Adrian Greaves and Xolani Mkhize.  It’s a real trainwreck of a composition, but from the tangled prose, it’s still pretty clear that Haggard’s mythical tribe of Kukuanaland is based pretty faithfully on the Zulus, with whom he had extensive personal experience when he was Out East himself.

By the bye, I link specifically to the new edition of KSM put out by the Oxford University Press for two reasons.  First, it comes with very informative textual and explanatory notes, although I think you can probably skip the introduction which seems to be about the psychology behind romance writing.  (Who knew Freud and Jung were both HRH fans?) Second, the cover art by A.C. Michael reminds me very much of the work of the great N.C. Wyeth.

So Ol’ Robbo is definitely going to delve further into Haggard’s writing.  (I believe there are numerous Quatermain adventures as well as others.)  I’m also circling back round to Robert Louis Stevenson (Treasure Island and Kidnapped, but NOT Catriona since I learned my lesson about that one last time; some of the other historickal adventures).  I’ve dipped into Conan-Doyle (The White Company, Brigadier Gerard) but I know there’s lots more left unexplored.  I have all of P.C. Wren’s Foreign Legion stories but need to explore further there as well.  Kipling, of course.  Finally, yes, dammit, I need to get into John Buchan.  Any suggestions on where to start with him?

UPDATE: Well, I say I’m going to circle back round to RLS, but that’s only if I can find the #@*^&# fellah!  One of Mrs. R’s least endearing practices is her periodic “tidying up” of the Port Swiller Library, usually when she decides I’ve left too many books stacked up on tables or else when she wants to put a new framed photo or whatnot up somewhere.   The trouble is that, in so doing, she’s in the habit of putting books back on the shelves hugger-mugger and all ahoo, with no respect whatsoever for Ol’ Robbo’s careful organization.  (Mr. Dewey ain’t in it, and I don’t need no stinking decimals, neither!)  Result?  Well, at the moment Jim Hawkins and David Balfour have up and disappeared.

I suppose eventually, after much searching, I’ll find one or both of them wedged between Augustine’s Confessions, a Plum Wodehouse novel,  and Atlantic Salmon Fly-Tying Patterns, but I’d just as soon the Missus didn’t mess about with them in the first place.  Grrr…..



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October 2017