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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo hasn’t watched “The Simpsons” in ages and ages, but it still nonetheless irks me that the character of Apu apparently is going to be disappeared because of protests about stereotyping.

Middle Gel probably had the best comment on this: “They’re taking out Apu because he’s a stereotype? All the characters on that show are stereotypes!”

Yep, yep, and yep.  But it’s okay to poke fun at, say, redneck trailer-trash or corrupt Kennedy-esque Boston-Irish politicians or Cosby-like black professionals or Bible-thumpers because reasons and shut up.

And lest you think Ol’ Robbo is heartlessly indifferent because he’s not the subject of any such treatment, I may tell you here that every time Sideshow Bob comes on, I shed a small tear due to the pain.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Veterans’ Day!

A glass of wine with all those who have served (which I suspect includes a few friends of the decanter and/or their relations).

Of course, this is the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI.  I must say that I don’t care much for all that “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” stuff.  To me, it’s too much like Sam Elliot’s line in “Gettysburg” about “men in tall hats and gold watch-fobs thumping their chests and saying what a brave charge it was”.

The fact of the matter is that the War could have ended a lot earlier if anyone had paid any attention to poor, dear Blessed Karl of Austria who, upon his accession to the throne, frantically tried to bring about a peace.  Alas, that rat-bastard Woodrow Wilson and his hard-liner pals wouldn’t take anything less than total annihilation of the Central Powers, the War dragged on another year of slaughter, the Bolsheviks seized control in Russia, and Germany was left ripe for the rise of Nazism.  All so that rat-bastard Wilson (I just love typing that) could indulge his progressivist authoritarian pipe-dream of bringing about the Brave New World both in Europe and at home.

And of course, we’re still very much paying for it.  Feh.

I mentioned the other day that I was reading Stephen Sears’ Chancellorsville.  From there, I went on to reread Glenn Tucker’s High Tide at Gettysburg.  As with the Sears book, it’s been a few years since I last dipped into this, and I’d forgotten how much like a bravura college lecture it reads – matter of fact narrative punctured with florid atmospheric word-paintings and asides about personalities.  Tucker doesn’t take sides but is sympathetic to both, which probably means he’d be guilty of wrong think these days.

From there, I set myself to revisit a task which I feel honor-bound to complete even though it’s very difficult, that is to finally finish reading James Longstreet’s From Manassas to Appomattox.  Old Pete may have been many things, but a good writer was definitely not one of them.  This book is amazingly dull and plodding, and seems uplifted by some nugget of opinion or observation only every ten pages or so.  But it is Old Pete, a man who was there.  Also, I dislike intensely the idea of not finishing a book once I’ve picked it up.

So that’s that.  A cold, gray day today, perfect for a blanket, a pot of coffee, and plodding.

UPDATE: Okay, I just finished the chapters devoted to Gettysburg, and things are actually starting to get good.  Particularly in the last one, Old Pete goes into a tirade against those critics who claimed or inferred that he lost the battle, and goes on to argue that it was, in fact, all Lee’s fault for not listening to his suggestion that the Rebs wheel round to the right.  Heh, indeed.

UPDATE DEUX:  Well, we’re in full self-justification territory now.  After departing Lee post-Gettysburg, he’s gone on to kick Braxton Bragg in the nuts over Chickamauga  and Chattanooga (which, if you’re a Southern sympathizer, is probably warranted), and to argue that his fart-assing about the wilds of East Tennessee over the winter of 1863-64 was the Single Most Important Strategic Thing for the Confederacy, if only Richmond had been paying attention.  (He doesn’t help his case by reprinting a number of communications from Sam Grant that basically say, “Yeah, Longstreet’s in East Tennessee. He’s harmless. I’m headed for Georgia.”)


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo doubts very seriously whether, “Well, I raked some leaves off the driveway this morning” counts as really riveting blog material, but that’s pretty much all I did viz a viz yardwork today.

As a matter of fact, this particular chore is a bit of a fetish for me.  Our driveway goes uphill to what is, especially during rush hour, rayther a busy street.  Leaves, especially wet ones, can be as slippery as ice and the last thing you want to have happen as you’re trying to jackrabbit into an open slot on our road is to have your slicks start to spin, as the Beach Boys might put it.**

(As an aside, the Gargle-Earth street view of Port Swiller Manor was filmed a couple years back during the height of the fall leaf-drop during a time when I was less than diligent about this.  The place looks a mess.  I wish they’d update it.)

Our first freeze warning of the year is up for tonight.  I suppose it’s time to do a little mulching and also to insulate the boxwood planters out on the patio.

** Obligatory (and fun) Beach Boys reference:

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo has been down the past day or so with some kind of stomach bug.  In my opinion, there is no worse combination than feeling hungry, nauseous, and stopped up all at the same time.  Bleh.

I mention this not out of self-pity, but so that I can raise a glass to Sleepy Beth, who, in commenting on my recent post griping about Mrs. R hustling me into getting the flu shot, said, “Oh, you may *think* her “I told you so” has been nullified, but you’re likely wrong. Instead, if you get sick, it’ll be the “Just think how bad it could have been if you didn’t get your flu shot.”

Damme if that isn’t exactly what Mrs. R said this morning.  Cheers, Ma’am!

Anyhoo, to while away the time, I’ve picked up Stephen W. Sears’ Chancellorsville (As of now, it’s late afternoon on May 2 and Jackson is about to launch his flank attack on hapless Otis Howard.)  While I’ve read it several times before, it’s been a few years, and I’m finding the book crisp, clear, and insightful in ways I’d forgotten.

I’m also finding myself entertaining a question, buried deep down in the recesses of my braims but nonetheless clearly present: What if Hooker WINS this time?

I’m not talking about Alt History and its useless yet pleasant debates about What Might Have Been.  I mean that as I read this book about this particular factual occurrence, part of my mind is given over to the slim possibility that the words on the page might somehow be different than they were before.

This fancy isn’t reserved for historickal works either.  I frequently experience the same thing when rereading a piece of fiction, too.  (To give but a single example, I’m always afraid that Théoden, upon seeing the siege of Minas Tirith, really might turn around and slink off into the hills.)  And as I think about it, I also get the same sensation when re-watching a favorite movie.  (Curiously, I never, ever think a piece of musick is going to suddenly go off in some different direction the Nth time I hear it.)

On the one hand, this sensation annoys and slightly worries me, since it’s pretty close to somebody or other’s definition of insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

On the other, Ol’ Robbo has the habit of reading and watching his favorites many, many times (else they wouldn’t be favorites), and it does keep things fresh and entertaining.

Well, you can call it willful suspension of disbelief or else creeping madness.  (The Old Gentleman used to make snide comments about “fuzzy-headed English majors” and the Mothe often flat-out told me I’m a loony.) I suppose if it confines itself to reading for pleasure, it’s harmless enough.  If I show signs of trying to apply it in Real Life (“That red light is actually green; I now identify as a fourteen year old girl”), then somebody please summon those nice young men in their clean white coats.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

You know what Ol’ Robbo dislikes?  Well, let me narrow that down a bit: You know one of the things Ol’ Robbo dislikes?

Guys who get themselves a muscle car or roadster – something with a big, loud engine, lots of chrome, and various other whistles and bells – and then putter around like a South Florida grandma.

I mean really, if you’re going to go to the trouble and expense of getting yourself a serious set of wheels like that, at least show the car some damn respect and drive like you mean it.

It’s something like these people who build themselves a yuge gourmet kitchen and then eat nothing but heat n’ serve meals picked up at the grocery store.

At least I don’t often get stuck behind a kitchen on my way to the office.


(I probably shouldn’t post these sentiments, since Middle Gel is a regular reader and also an impatient speed-demon on the road and it sets a bad example.  But still.  Grrrrrr…….)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, Ol’ Robbo voted today.  And I hope you did, too.

Among myself, Mrs. R, and the two Elder Gels, especially as ours is a very tight House District this year, it’s gratifying to know that the Por Swiller household delivered up four votes.  Who knows? We might actually make a difference this time!

I’m resolved, however, this go round not to fall into the trap of staying up all hours, anxiously awaiting the results. Some reading, “Ocean’s Twelve” and then an early night for me and I’ll check them in the morning.

By the bye, I stopped by the polls on the way to work, and yes, I wore my little “I Voted” sticker all day, just to twit the moonbats in my office (i.e., just about everyone else).  They suspect me of being a Deplorable, but since I’ve never uttered a single politickal word in all my time there, they can’t actually be sure.  So they have no choice but to smile with faux cheer and mutter polite nothings.  If the pogroms ever start in earnest, of course, I’ll probably be hustled down to the basement for a bullet to the back of my head, but in the meantime, civility shields me.  Heh.  (I do the same thing wearing the ashes on Ash Wednesday, but of course that is much more obvious.  They still can’t do or say anything about it.)

UPDATE: Well, that was interesting.  (Our Rep lost, by the bye.  By a lot.)  And all the stuff going on today? Wheeeee!!!!




A Window On The Past

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Last evening, Ol’ Robbo got to spend some quality time in front of the firepit.  Youngest Gel and her friend came out for a bit and made a few s’mores, but I mostly had the patio to myself.  (Although I had spoken here on Saturday of breaking into the Laphroaig, since last night was a work night, I contented myself with sticking to the vino.)

Ol’ Robbo simply loves to sit and stare into a fire, particularly when it’s outdoors.  The Mothe used to accuse me of being a pyromaniac.  There’s probably something to this, but the real satisfaction is at a much deeper (and more wholesome) level.

It comes when considering that people have been staring into exactly the same flames practically since the dawn of Mankind.  This link across the complete arc of human history, when one is in the right mood, can produce downright shivers of awe.

Then I begin to muse about random people along that arc and to wonder what went through their minds as they sat there by the fire: Shepherds watching their flocks by night; the Roman garrison at Hadrian’s Wall; John Bates and his friends the night before Agincourt; a Forty-Niner camped along the Arkansas River.  The possibilities are positively endless.

Just lovely.

On the other hand, this evening was the first commute home in darkness.  Not so lovely.  It usually takes the evening rush a week or two to get adjusted to the time change, and it didn’t help that we’ve have a cloudy, foggy, drizzly day here so it was really quite dark.  Many, many unforced errors along the way, like a baseball team early in the season.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

This being All Saints Sunday in the Palie Church, I absolutely knew what I was in store for when I tagged along with the Family Robbo this morning: Hymn No. 293, “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God“.  At Robbo’s Former Episcopal Church, they sing this every All Saints Sunday.  And I cringe every time I hear it.

The words, by Lesbia Scott, are downright gooshy. (“You can meet them in school, or in lanes, or at sea, in church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea….”).  The setting, Grand Isle by John Henry Hopkins, starts out curiously similar to Arthur Sullivan’s “A British Tar is a soaring soul” before going off on its own gee-whiz, happy-clappy way.

One of the poorer choices for inclusion in the 1982 Palie Hymnal, in my humble opinion, but then Modernism (it was published in 1929) will let you down every time.

As a matter of fact, the Mothe and I used to mock this particular hymn back in the day by feigning over-enthusiasm when we sang it.  We’d sway and stick out our elbows and roll our eyes at each other.  And for the line “And I’m going to be one, too”, we always deliberately changed “going to” to “gonna”.

It’s just that kind of piece.

(Don’t judge us too harshly:  William Byrd, J.S. Bach, and Samuel Wesley, to name just a few, would have reacted exactly the same way!)

Saturday Chillin’

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, it has suddenly become that time of year again.  Perhaps because of weather conditions, perhaps it’s just Robbo’s imagination, but the trees seem to be shedding very quickly this year.  As I look about me, the ones I can see all look to be well over half naked, whereas this time just last week there was very little doing.

As to colors? Eh, I’d give them a C+.  A few splashes of red and orange here and there, but mostly brownish yellows.  And this is among the maples, too.  Question: Does the age of a tree have anything to do with the colors it throws?

So Ol’ Robbo spent several hours this morning cleaning up the piles Mrs. R had raked yesterday and mowing over the rest of them.  I think that fresh-cut grass is still my favorite suburban outdoor smell, but damp, rotting leaves hold a special place for me, too.  (I’m just weird that way.)  I also enjoy it when bits of leaf-mulch get on the mower engine and start to smoke and burn.  (It’s too bad traditional leaf-burning is no longer a thing, but I’m sure some knuckle-head would probably reduce our entire neighborhood to ashes if it was.)

Speaking of ashes, because it’s such a pleasantly brisk day, and because Middle Gel is home visiting from school for the weekend, I think we’re going to light up the fire pit after din-dins this evening.  (For some reason, we’ve hardly ever used the thing except for disposing of empty charcoal bags, even though we’ve had it for years.)  The Gels no doubt will want to fool about with marshmallows, but I’m thinking there’s some Laphroaig that’s been sitting on the sideboard for quite some time and it might be a good idea to check and ensure that it’s still in good fighting trim.  (Especially as we get that extra hour tonight!)

And speaking of beverages, I should note that somebody here took me to task for stating that post-yardwork iced coffee with milk is the nectar of the Gods some weeks back.  I should have clarified that this was strictly a summah thing.  (And in that respect, I restate my claim and will gladly give satisfaction to anyone who disputes it.)  At the moment I’m sitting out on the porch with a nice, hot mug of pure black (which see), and it’s definitely the thing for the time and place.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers, and happy All Saints Day!

Regular friends of the decanter may recall Ol’ Robbo’s post the other day about the domestic crisis which had reared its ugly head at Port Swiller Manor over my disinclination to get a flu shot?

Well, after going to Mass at lunchtime today to mark the Solemnity and pondering the gentle Irish padre’s homily on the mosaic of little acts of love that make up the collage of saintliness in the ordinary person, I resolved to turn the other cheek, to render unto Mrs. Caesar that which is Mrs. Caesar’s, to Offer It Up in the cause of the sacramental bond of marriage.

In other words, to cave and get the damn shot.

This was my very first flu shot, by the bye, and I sheepishly confess that I may have been making much ado about nothing.  I had got it in my head that the vaccine was something akin to a tetanus booster, which hurts like the blazes, so you may imagine my surprise at what a trifling little prick it actually was.

Mrs. R was delighted when I showed her the band-aid this evening, but I fear we’re still at a rolling stalemate, much like Grant and Lee in the 1864 campaign.

“Don’t ever hector me like that again,” I said.

“Fine,” she replied, “Just get the shot in the first place next time.”

“No,” I said, “I mean don’t do that.”

“I won’t,” she replied, “If you just get the shot in the first place next time.”


At least I have the comfort of knowing that if I do come down with something this year, her “I told you so!” has been nullified.





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